By Enrique Alfaro
The seagrass biomass protocol was conducted between November 2015 and January 2016.
As part of a regional program to develop a database with biological information about the coastal lagoons of Baja California, an evaluation of seagrass distribution in San Quintin Bay was performed between November and January. The bay is relevant both for its economic and ecological value.
In order to continue with the work of David H. Ward and his team, two measurement samplings were carried out in San Quintin Bay; the first one from November 23 to 28, and the second one from January 23 to 24 of 2016.
Lagoons in Baja California are constantly threatened by commercial development and population growth. The anthropogenic alterations of the coastal environment have been linked to the global destruction of seagrass banks.
These alterations, related to their distribution and coverage, directly affect the population and distribution of other marine organisms that depend on them, this includes: fish, aquatic birds, and marine mammals.
The global decrease of seagrass coverage has resulted in the need of making an inventory and monitoring this valuable natural resource.
The local and regional assessment of seagrass distribution and abundance could be used to guide conservation management efforts. Furthermore, it could also maximize research projects performed in the coastal zone. In addition, the data could be used to evaluate seagrass capacity to support resident and migratory populations.
In order to comply with the collection protocol, the researchers had to use a boat for transportation in order to get to each site. Besides, samplings have to be completed during two new moon or full moon days and during negative low tides so that the seagrass is completely exposed.
To locate these sites a GPS is needed. Afterwards, a quadrant is defined and the percentage of seagrass (Zostera marina, Ruppia marítima), mud, and algae coverage is estimated. Later, the number of plants and buds within the quadrant has to be counted, and then 10 plants are selected as a representative sample in order to measure their length. This process is repeated in every site.
The seagrass monitoring was performed with the participation of M.S. Enrique Alfaro, Field and Operations Officer of Terra Peninsular A.C. along with Dionisio Guerrero, M.S. Karen Raquel Villegas, M.S. Mónica Cecilia Mosqueda and M.S. Alberto Salazar.