Bailiwick Eelgrass Exploration Project
BEEP is supported with funding from the Guernsey Electricity Power to the People Fund and the States of Guernsey Strategy for Nature Fund
Why are we interested in eelgrass?
Eelgrass is an incredibly important habitat forming species, found within the shallows of our seas. It supports a variety of marine life, including seahorses and juvenile fish. Eelgrass beds can reduce coastal erosion and seen as a mitigation measure for climate change, through storing organic carbon.
Anecdotally, Eelgrass beds are thought to occur throughout the Bailiwick, however, key information on their location, size and what marine species they support is very limited.
The Bailiwick Eelgrass Exploration Project (BEEP) aims to increase knowledge on the presence, location and composition of Eelgrass beds across the Bailiwick, through citizen science. The project is supported by several environmental bodies across the Bailiwick and comprises of two objectives:
- To record the presence, distribution, extent and composition of Eelgrass around the Bailiwick.
- To promote awareness of this important habitat forming species within the Bailiwick to relevant stakeholders, appropriate bodies and the public.
If you are interested in becoming a BEEP citizen scientist and help us record Eelgrass across the Bailiwick, please contact Dr Mel Broadhurst-Allen, for further details and training opportunities.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What's the difference between seagrass and eelgrass?
Seagrasses are species of flowering plant that have adapted to live in the ocean. They produce pollen, flowers and seeds.
All eelgrass species are seagrass, but not all seagrass is eelgrass. Eelgrass refers to 15 species of seagrass in the Zostera genus. We have 2 species of Zostera in the Bailiwick
- Zostera marina – Common eelgrass
- Zostera noltei – Dwarf eelgrass
BEEP is supported with funding from the Guernsey Electricity
Power to the People Fund
BEEP uses information recorded by the trained, volunteer citizen scientists to develop conservation strategies for Eelgrass across the Bailiwick. This includes a new initiative to deploy advanced mooring systems (AMS) which are designed to reduce impact upon Eelgrass compared to traditional moorings.
Traditional moorings damage/scour the seabed and prevent Eelgrass from growing. AMS are designed to reduce mooring chains/rope from touching the seafloor, allowing the Eelgrass to fully grow around them, whilst still allow boaters to attach/moor to them.
Several bays across the Bailiwick have Eelgrass beds and are also sites for boat moorings. This initiative aims to significantly reduce the impact of the boat moorings upon this important marine habitat, through the installation of AMS.
This initiative is a valuable tool to engage with the public on the importance and vulnerability of Eelgrass and, how to reduce human induced impacts upon the marine environment.
A new assessment (a new objective of BEEP) has been created to investigate if the moorings within bays with Eelgrass are directly impacting upon the Eelgrass beds present. Conservation management recommendations will then be given, with the aim to reduce any impacts.
The aim of this new assessment/BEEP objective is to investigate the ecological impact of boat moorings upon Eelgrass beds within Guernsey.
- quantitatively estimating Eelgrass bed extents and composition,
- identify the presence of moorings within the beds,
- collate evidence of mooring impacts and,
- develop conservation recommendations to reduce any impacts.
The assessment will help fulfil Goal 2 of the Strategy for Nature.
This assessment will identify impacts, provide nature based solutions to help maximise biodiversity within these important marine habitats.
The assessment would also reach Goals 1 and 3, through sharing information related to Eelgrass beds/impacts, the training of island citizen scientists and enhancing public awareness of the importance of Eelgrass across Guernsey.