06:34 28 August 2013
Seagrass are just some of the water-dwelling plants that were severely affected by the urbanization of California. Due to the increase of nutrient pollution in coastal waters and because of the increasing use of nitrogen-rich fertilisers, seagrass were heading for extinction. However, a recent study brought good news. It says that the return of sea otters to the central Californian coast have helped significantly in improving the health of sea grass.
Brent Hughes, lead author of the study, said: “This estuary is part of one of the most polluted systems in the entire world, but you can still get this healthy thriving habitat, and it's all because of the sea otters.
“So it's almost like these sea otters are fighting the effects of poor water quality.”
The researchers have monitored seagrass level for the past 50 years in Elkhorn Slough in Monterey Bay. They noted any increase or decrease in their numbers. In addition, they have noted changes that affected the grass. However, they conclude that the only factor that helped improved the health of seagrass was the increasing number of sea otter in the area.
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