10 Common Practices in Maintaining Lagoon Biodiversity

10 Common Practices in Maintaining Lagoon Biodiversity

Here’s a fact: 13% of the world’s coastlines are lagoons. Because of that, they present one of the highest biological productivities in marine life. Teeming with species, they provide homes for fish gliding through rippling seagrass, birds skimming the glittering surface, dolphins spinning joyously, ancient sea turtles returning to their nest, and many tiny creatures thriving in hidden corners. 

However, their dazzling diversity could rapidly fade away. Pollution clouds their waters, development erases their shores, while climate change and other threats disrupt their delicate balance. Fortunately, there are still ways these precious places can be protected.

Below are ten ways people who cherish lagoons save their splendor around the world.

  • Habitat protection

It’s extremely important to protect the habitats that are found and remain in lagoons – mangroves, marshes, seagrass meadows, tidal flats, coral reefs, and more. These areas are home to many types of plants and animals. Keeping connections between these habitats allows wildlife to move from one area to another to find food, breed, raise their young, or take shelter. Setting up protected zones where no destruction can occur brings to a halt threats like construction, dredging, or industrial use along shores, which would damage habitats.

  • Water quality management

Lagoons collect contamination and pollution that run off land areas into the water. Things like excess nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants from agricultural areas, sewage disposal, urban runoff from roads, and industrial waste can be harmful to life in lagoons.

Upgrading how wastewater is filtered before it enters lagoons, limiting fertilizer use on nearby farms, building wetland areas to help filter runoff, and properly disposing of industrial pollutants can improve water quality. Testing measures like oxygen levels, water clarity, and algae growth can provide early warning signs of issues.

  • Artificial reefs and oyster beds

Strategically placing hard substrata like concrete, wood, or shell provides attachment points needed by oysters, barnacles, tube worms, and other sessile invertebrates. These constructed habitats augment biodiversity and biomass. The 3D structure shelters juveniles from predation—for instance, Indian River Lagoon animals, like baby manatees, avoid boats and sharks under artificial reefs. Abundant food, breeding, and nursery grounds also support fish populations like the said lagoon’s spotted sea trout, sheepshead, octopus, and spadefish.

10 Common Practices in Maintaining Lagoon Biodiversity
10 Common Practices in Maintaining Lagoon Biodiversity
  • Habitat restoration

Restoring lagoon habitats brings them back to life. Getting in there and clearing away anything blocking the natural ebb and flow of water helps create the healthy conditions that plants and animals need to thrive. Replanting those critical mangroves, marshes, and seagrasses along the shoreline reestablishes places where species can grow up and feed. Rebuilding oyster reefs out of shells and other materials offers solid ground for native oysters, corals, sponges, and associated reef fish to recover. Making these types of repairs renews the web of sea life in lagoons. 

  • Sustainable fisheries

Achieving a balance between economic fishing needs and the conservation of fish stocks is challenging. Overfishing can dramatically reduce fish populations over short periods. Latest reports revealed that the world is producing 200 million tonnes of fish and seafood annually—counting both wild and farm catch. This alarming growth rate is enough reason for policymaking bodies to focus on sustainable fisheries. To do this, the following actions are suggested by experts:

  • Setting limits on the total number of fish that can be caught based on scientific assessments of what levels are sustainable can prevent overfishing.
  • Having rules on the minimum size of fish that can be caught allows more young fish to survive and mature.
  • Closing off certain areas during spawning seasons protects fish when they’re grouping to breed.
  • Modifications to fishing gear, like net mesh size and fishing line attachments, reduce accidentally catching non-target species. 
  • Having some areas completely closed off to all fishing gives fish populations a refuge to recover and replenish stocks. 

Together, these kinds of fisheries management regulations allow fish populations to rebound.

  • Invasive species control

Invasive species can really do a number on native ones by elbowing into their territory and competing for food and space. They might prey on them, change the habitat itself, or spread nasty diseases. Doing regular check-ins to catch invasive species early, then trapping, poisoning, or other forms of control, can stop them from digging in too deep. But once they’re firmly established, unfortunately, long fights are usually needed to simply contain their spread enough for natives to hang in there, too.

  • Species recovery programs

When special signature species like seahorses, turtles, seabirds, and dolphins start declining in number, captive breeding, and reintroduction can give them a boost. Collecting eggs from the wild and hatching them in protected hatcheries get them safely through tricky early life stages. Then, releasing healthy youngsters or adults, often into protected areas, increases wild numbers and breeding success. Supporting the comeback of struggling species helps maintain balance across the whole ecosystem.

  • Climate change adaptation

Climate change alters seasons, temperatures, storm patterns, and more in ways that ripple through ocean food chains. Even at just a 1.1°C rise in global temperature compared to pre-industrial levels, studies indicate that 60% of marine ecosystems worldwide have already suffered harm or are unable to sustain.

Enabling native marine life to adapt along with the climate is key to preserving biodiversity. Conservation plans can map out paths for wetlands and mangroves to shift inland along with rising seas. Providing shaded nursery zones helps coral bounce back after widespread bleaching. Selective breeding produces strains better suited to cope with climate extremes.

  • Community stewardship

Getting communities involved generates excitement around conservation. Voluntary shoreline erosion control or litter cleanups let locals take ownership. Junior ranger patrols monitor wildlife. Schools adopt no-take zones. Tourism fees fund efforts. Livelihood training reduces exploitation pressure. Participatory planning allows stakeholders to help shape priorities. Shared responsibility enhances compliance.

  • Continual research and monitoring

Filling knowledge gaps about how ecosystems work informs policy. Long-term monitoring spotlights the causes behind population fluctuations. Genetic studies assess inbreeding risks. Models guide restoration site selections. Climate impact checks highlight areas for protection. By synthesizing data, scientists adapt recommendations as conditions change.

In closing

Saving lagoons requires a collaborative effort. By conserving habitats, controlling water pollution, aiding fragile species, and involving communities, this rich biodiversity can be preserved. Prioritizing lagoon health ensures these coastal gems can continue nourishing life for generations.

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