Saving seagrasses may keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere

As seagrasses continue to die globally, they could release all the carbon dioxide they have stored back into the atmosphere.

That was among the takeaways presented by marine scientist James Fourqurean of the FIU Institute of Environment during a webinar on World Oceans Day presented by the U.S. Consulate General in Perth, Australia.

Fourqurean, a leading expert in Blue Carbon and seagrass ecologywho is director of the institute’s Coastlines and Oceans Division, presented his work along with Oscar Serrano, a postdoctoral research fellow at Edith Cowan University. Fourqurean also used the webinar to highlight the collaborations with Australia that support his work.


In the webinar, Fourqurean and Serrano shared these facts about seagrasses:

  • Most of the carbon stored in seagrass meadows is in the soils beneath them. 
  • Seagrass ecosystems are rapidly declining, meaning the carbon they currently store may be in danger of being released back into the atmosphere. 
  • It is important to protect seagrass-dense areas from human-made and natural threats to prevent the possible release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
  • There is great potential for conservation of seagrass areas, as well as restoration.
  • Scientists can restore these ecosystems by transplanting seagrasses and creating new seagrass meadows over time. 
  • Appropriate water quality management is essential to the health of seagrasses and their continued sequestration of CO2

Panelists also highlighted the significance of the U.S.-Australia alliance. The U.S. and Australia, together, are home to about 20 percent of the world’s Blue Carbon ecosystems. Understanding what is happening with Blue Carbon in these areas can allow scientists to better respond to similar situations elsewhere. 

This partnership brings together some of the top researchers in the Blue Carbon field, promoting international collaboration and the development of international conservation solutions including global policies to make a real difference.

Fourqurean and Serrano ended their talks by giving a bit of career advice to students. 

Fourqurean urged students to branch out beyond science to economics. One of the biggest advances in Blue Carbon is in how the economics of the topic interface with the science. Serrano encouraged them to gain hands-on experience in the research they are interested in pursuing.

The webinar “Virtual Conversation: World Oceans Day 2020is available online and was supported by the U.S. Consulate General Perth in partnership with the Western Australian Marine Science Institution.