A short summary
Have you ever heard of seagrass? Well you should have done! As the only flowering plant that lives under the waves, they create beautiful meadows across the seabed, helping fish, turtles and other marine life to thrive. Seagrass meadows have been dubbed the “lungs of the sea”, but they are under serious threat around the world.
For my PhD I will be travelling to a tiny island in Greece to help research and protect some of the most extensive seagrass beds in the whole of the Mediterranean sea. We want to expand our work to measure the health of these beds and their fish populations, but to do so, we need to buy a compressor which will allow us to carry out SCUBA-diving surveys around the coast.
Carrying out conservation work in Greece at the moment is... challenging. However, if we can purchase this piece of equipment, it will help us to provide vital evidence, which can be used to bolster protection for seagrass beds, and all the wildlife that rely on them, in Greek waters.
All donations that we raise from this campaign, up to the minimum target amount will be matched by our partners. This means that for every pound you donate, we will receive double that amount.
Who are we?
My name is Sarah Meek, I have been passionate about diving and marine conservation all of my life. I have recently started my PhD at UWE - the University of the West of England, Bristol. This is the next step on my road to becoming a professional marine conservationist. My work is also being carried out in partnership with the Greek organisation Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. Archipelagos are a fantastic charity who are doing lots of great work to research and conserve species such as Mediterranean monk seals (the rarest seal in the world!), sperm whales and dolphins. They work in partnership with local fishermen and governments to find management solutions which provide a win-win outcome for people and wildlife. Archipelagos understand the importance of healthy seagrass meadows and have raised the alarm about the threats that they face from anchor damage, illegal fishing and climate change.
Why should you help?
Seagrass – it doesn't sound very exciting does it? But while it might not be as rock and roll as coral reefs, it is arguably just as important. Seagrass meadows not only store huge amounts of carbon, they also act as a nursery habitat for many fish species which are a part of both the marine and human food chains. If these seagrass meadows are destroyed, fewer fish survive. For the sake of the seas, and all the people who rely on them, we need to make sure that seagrass meadows are protected.
Seagrass meadows in the Aegean Sea are reported to grow at depths of up to 60 metres, that’s 15-20 metres deeper than the western Mediterranean - making them some of the deepest seagrass meadows in the world! However, there is no scientific data to back up these reports! With even this most basic information missing, we need to act. The island of Lipsi is an ideal size for us to test our mapping methods; Archipelagos have a small field base there we can work from, so that's my basecamp sorted. Unfortunately, we don’t have a compressor and with no dive centre on the island, there’s nowhere to fill our tanks for diving.
This project is urgently needed to find out more about these seagrass meadows in the eastern Aegean Seas and answer some fundamental questions about the ecological importance and ecosystem services these seagrass beds provide.
Where will your money go?
Minimum target = £1000
• This will allow us to buy the compressor we need to be able to conduct our dive surveys and complete the mapping of these seagrass meadows. We also need to dive to collect samples that will tell us more about these seagrass meadows. Exactly how much carbon they are storing? What makes these beds so different from the western Mediterranean meadows? Why is it they can they can grow so much deeper? How can we conserve them in an uncertain future? The compressor costs £2000 so for each pound you donate up to our £1000 minimum we will match.
Full target = £2000
• Our base on Lipsi has a very small basic field lab - which currently doesn’t have any equipment in it! With your help, we could begin to kit out this lab to allow us to carry out experimental work and process samples collected using SCUBA, before shipping them back to the labs at UWE for analysis.
• Reaching our full target will help us pay for:
- A freezer to freeze sediment cores allowing us to slice them up into sections for depth analysis of carbon storage,
- Quadrats to conduct under water surveys to help us to assess the health of the meadows,
- An oven to dry samples so they can be shipped back to the labs at UWE.
If things really take off, and we raise more than our target amount, the money will go towards diving and snorkeling equipment for Archipelagos volunteers. Currently, all volunteers are asked to provide their own mask, fins and snorkels, but having spares at the base will allow anyone who couldn’t buy their own, to participate in the project by assisting with survey work. Also if any of our personal equipment were to break it wouldn’t put a stop to us getting out in the field while we get a replacement!
We will keep you involved with the project by regular twitter updates. I will post as regularly as I can to my twitter page (@sarahmeek26) considering the internet connection on a remote island, but you can also stay up to date through the University Environmental science twitter feed (@UWE_Env). We will post photos and videos of how the surveys are progressing and any exciting things the research team have been up to.
We are very grateful for any support you can offer but aside from this we would love to be able to give you something in return! Check out the list of rewards on the right for more information.
Find us here
I’ll be posting regular updates (when internet connection allows) with photos and videos directly from the field to keep you involved with all the exciting things we’ll be doing as part of this project. You can find out more about the project and keep track of how we are getting on by following me on twitter @sarahmeek26 along with the university twitter account, @UWE_Env who will also be posting updates on the project.
Help us succeed!
- You don't need to give money to help us succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog.
- In fact, share it with everyone you know as we think it's a great idea, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly.
- And we know we said you don't need to give money to help us, but we'd love it if you did! Please sponsor us and help make this happen.