Seagrass Wars: The Spots Awaken

Seagrass is under attack! Hit ‘play’ to learn more, then take the ‘Sequel Challenge’ (to the right)

Oysters and Seagrass—Guardians of the Sea!

Oysters—Nature’s vacuum cleaners 

  • A single oyster can filter up to 2 gallons of seawater EVERY HOUR. That’s almost 50 gallons a day! 
  • Learn more fun oyster facts here (54 minute NOAA Live! video; sign language interpreted; for grades 2-8)

Seagrass beds are important because:

  • They shelter for all kinds of marine species! Click here to tour a Puget Sound eelgrass bed with Washington Sea Grant naturalist Jeff Adams (starts around minute 4).
  • They act like ‘refrigerators of the sea’, full of worms, crabs and shrimp for fish, seabirds and marine mammals to eat. How many tasty critters can you spot in this eelgrass meadow
  • They help fight climate change and ocean acidification by capturing carbon. Click here to read more about seagrass superpowers! 

Simon and his oyster friends need our help! Which of these actions will YOU take to protect seagrass from disease and and other kinds of harm?

  • I live on Puget Sound; I can volunteer to help care for critical marine habitat like eelgrass beds!
  • I live along a different coast; I can join a volunteer beach clean-up, plant a rain garden to filter polluted stormwater, or hold a fundraiser for a local marine stewardship organization.
  • I live a long way from the coast, but that’s OK… Any action I take to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the oceans will help seagrass beds all over the world!
  • I can vote for people and laws that will protect seagrass beds and help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  • I’m still too young to vote, but I can share what I’ve learned with adults in my community, so they’ll understand why the ocean needs our help!

Thanks for supporting seagrass and ocean health! You can make a difference wherever you are, but if you live near Puget Sound, you can volunteer with Washington Sea Grant, the Washington Environmental Council, the Northwest Straits Foundation, and Sound Water Stewards (just to name a few!).

Resources for learners of all ages…

Kid favorites (that everyone will love)

Eelgrass Oceancast Gorgeous underwater video about life in an eelgrass meadow (4 minute video; Shaw Center for the Salish Sea)

Rain Shadow Explorers: Seaweed Eelgrass co-stars in this fun video about seaweed (14 minute video; Sound Water Stewards)

Middle school & up 

Eelgrass in Island County Gorgeous storymap about Puget Sound eelgrass and restoration efforts (Island County Marine Resource Committee; 2021)

Six reasons to protect eelgrass  (1-page Audubon flyer in English & Spanish)

Diving deeper to understand eelgrass wasting disease  (reading time: 3 minutes; Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, 2018)

High School & up

Pacific oysters and native eelgrass–partners in a changing ocean? The Washington Sea Grant research project that inspired Seagrass Wars! (website)

Seagrasses Turn Back the Clock on Ocean Acidification  (reading time: 10 minutes; UC Davis, 2021)

Eelgrass and Oysters: Partners in a Changing World? (reading time: 5 minutes; UW Friday Harbor Labs, 2019)

Oysters and Eelgrass help each other out under increasing carbon dioxide levels  (reading time: 5 minutes; UW Fisheries 2019)

Underwater seagrass meadows dial back polluted seawater  (reading/watching time: 10 minutes; Cornell University, 2017)

Eelgrass declines pose a mystery  (reading time: 10 minutes; Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, 2017)

Up to our grasses in science  (reading time: 5 minutes; SeaDoc Society blog, 2016)

Puget Sound Eelgrass Vital Sign  Summary of scientific information and conservation actions (website)

Tipping the balance: the impact of eelgrass wasting disease in a changing ocean  2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference presentation (slides)


Complex Interactions of Temperature, Light and Tissue Damage on Seagrass Wasting Disease in Zostera marina 2020 scientific paper (open access)

Oysters and eelgrass: potential partners in a high pCO2 ocean  2018 scientific paper (journal subscription required)

Modulation of the Eelgrass – Labyrinthula zosterae Interaction Under Predicted Ocean Warming, Salinity Change and Light Limitation 2019 scientific paper (open access)

Eelgrass Wasting Disease: Cause and Recurrence of a Marine Epidemic 1987 scientific paper (open access)

Video created and produced in partnership with Washington Sea Grant.