Our underwater forests are seagrasses, the only flowering plants in marine environment. There are over 70 different seagrass species worldwide. They can photosynthesize and provide food and shelter for many organisms. They stabilize sediments, protect shores from erosion, remove nutrients and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.
Seagrasses are also becoming an interesting source for biotechnology applications for extracting new antifouling agents, wood degrading enzymes, and as nutraceuticals. Dead seagrasses can be used in bioremediation processes or as raw materials for other products.
It is important however to find the balance for their use and exploit their potential sustainably, without reducing their natural abundance. Here is where ecologists and biotechnologists will work hand in hand.