Our shallow lagoons in Diani primarily consist of seagrass which is an important ecosystem for juvenile fish and invertebrates. Seagrass also plays a vital role in climate change mitigation, as it sequesters huge amounts of carbon dioxide, and functions as the main food source for sub-adult and adult green turtles, of which we have many.

Limited seagrass research has been conducted along the coast of Diani Beach, but luckily for us, a team of experts have recently set out to assess this ecosystem. Additionally, the team will also focus on macroalgae; determining for both, the species composition, distribution and abundance. The project will be conducted between Tiwi and Chale Island, throughout the National Marine Reserve, aiming to inform local conservationists on the current status of this lagoon system and form a basis for future monitoring.

Climate change continues to negatively impact the ocean and its organisms. With waters becoming warmer, corals become stressed, dislodging the symbiotic algae living in their tissues causing corals to whiten; a term known as coral bleaching. In the short term, this is reversible if the water temperature decreases. However, extensive coral bleaching events result in mass coral deaths, reducing biodiversity throughout the coral reef ecosystem. It is important for scientists worldwide to measure the health of this vital ecosystem that supports approximately 25% of all known marine species, and to use the data collected to attempt to enhance ecosystem sustainability and mitigate future climatic changes. Because of this, the team is conducting ground-truthing of shallow-water reefs in Diani and contributing this data to validate satellite images as part of a global coral reef mapping initiative.

Look out for part 2 of the ‘protection and monitoring of our shallow-water ecosystems.’ Find out who will conduct the research, how they will conduct their research and what the results will tell us.