This month on the Naked Oceans podcast we take a look around the lush world of seagrasses. These aquatic flowering plants grace shallow shorelines across tropical and temperate regions where they provide vital nursery habitat for many fish and invertebrates, lock up carbon from the atmosphere, and help to protect coastlines from erosion.
Emmett Duffy from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science heads up a pioneering global study called ZEN – the Zostera Experimental Network – that investigates the role that tiny grazing animals have in maintaining a healthy balance on seagrass meadows.
J. Emmett DuffyHe gives us the low down on why seagrasses matter, the threats facing them, and how his research is leading to a better understanding of how they work and how we can effectively safeguard them for the future.
From bugs and slugs to some of the largest animals that feed on seagrass meadows, the sea cows or sirenia. We catch up with a lady who knows more than anyone else on the planet about the most illusive of the four living species of sirenia - Lucy Keith Diagne a world expert on the West African manatee.
A West African manatee that was rescued from behind an agricultural dam in Navel, Senegal awaits release back into the Senegal River. Photo by Tomas Diagne.
Her research is forging new knowledge about these mysterious marine mammals. She is working out how old they are by counting rings in their ear bones and using genetic studies to investigate the structure of populations across their huge range between Senegal and Angola on Africa’s west coast. She’s also find out that despite being famous vegetarians, West African manatees will also eat seafood, crunching clams and stealing catches from fishermen’s nets.
Witnessing manatee behaviors such as mating is a truly rare occurence anywhere in Africa, because of the murky water and the secretive nature of the manatees. This lucky photo was taken near Dagana, in the Senegal River. Photo courtesy of the Senegal River Management Authority (SAED).
With support from the Save Our Seas Foundation, Lucy is developing a network of manatee researchers across West Africa to help her in her studies and to help secure the future for these little-known and threatened mammals.
In other ocean news, we hear how just like Goldilocks, corals don’t like it when things are too hot, and too cold.
From the Surfrider Foundation Rise Above Plastics campaignAnd with several online campaigns underway to raise awareness about plastic debris in the oceans, we chat with Richard Thompson from Plymouth University about how his research team are hunting down the source of tiny microplastics in seas and uncovering the potential impact they’re having on marine life.
And in another instalment of Critter of the Month we catch up with a sneaky fish that lurks about the dark depths with its very own sniper scope.
As always, you can listen to and download Naked Oceans for free from our website, and from the iTunes music store, along with the rest of the Naked Oceans back catalogue.
Thanks for listening. Catch you next time.