by Nick Carson

At play, careless craft
Pillage precious seagrass beds.
Keep anchors away!

Why we should care more deeply about the shallows

Rebecca and Philip’s evocative poems champion the contributions that seagrass meadows fringing the shores of almost every continent make to our planet. It’s clear that these precious habitats – sheltering, sustaining, and strengthening the environment around them in countless ways – must be protected.

My task was to translate this righteous cause into a pledge, urging a simple but effective action. 

Inspired by advice from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I considered a pledge to reduce the use of fertilisers, pesticides and harmful household chemicals that can pollute seawater – particularly pertinent for coastal communities. But the message felt too broad and indirect for the seagrass conservation cause.

Both poems reference threats that seagrass meadows face. As well as industrial, agricultural, and domestic water pollution, these include aggressive coastal development, and the damage caused by boats – both commercial and recreational. I found Rebecca’s use of the word “ignorance” as a threat particularly arresting, and I chose to direct my pledge towards those people who unwittingly harm the seagrass as they enjoy seaside activities.

While initiatives such as Project Seagrass strive to replant and restore the meadows, my pledge targets one of the sources of that damage: boats and other coastal craft.

Save Our Seabed provides insightful guidance on the devastation that recreational boating can do to seagrass meadows without proper care and attention. It also highlights other common water-based activities that can disrupt the delicate seabed, such as kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and diving. Riding horses through the surf, and even allowing dogs to dig in shallow water while on beach walks, can uproot the seagrass too.

Anchors in particular can wreak havoc when dropped in the heart of a seagrass meadow – on their initial impact, but also as the chain gouges the seabed as it drags along with the changing tides. In some areas, Voluntary No-Anchor Zones have been set up to protect seagrass meadows. But more can be done to raise awareness and encourage compliance.

While anchors are the focus for the imperative final line, the broader damage that “careless craft” of all kinds can do forms the heart of my haiku’s message. By taking greater care and being mindful of the rich ecosystem just beneath the surface, we can all play a small part in protecting it.

Read Rebecca Dowman’s 26 Habitats seagrass centena and essay.

Read Philip Roger’s 26 Habitats seagrass centena and essay.

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