Evaluation of the present status of seagrass ecosystems along the west coast stretching from Kalpitiya to Thaleimannar.

 
IMG9714

Studying distribution of seagrass , Eluwankulam, Puttalam © kumudini Ekaratne, IUCN, 2012

Objectives

Determine the effect of environment and substrate characteristics on species diversity and distribution of seagrass communities in Kalpitiya to Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka.  

Background

The information on the species composition and distribution pattern of seagrasses communities of the western coast of Sri Lanka is scarce. The main reason is that these ecosystems have not been studied for a long period of time.  And the area was not accessible for three decades due to the war and its repercussions. Therefore a scarcity of information about the current situation of the sea grasses exists.

This study focuses on filling the knowledge gap and strengthening the current information base that is essential to manage this ecosystem properly.  During the first phase, we identified larger information gaps and ecologically and economically important sea grass ecosystems available along the west coast. The information on the extents, present status, ecological importance and awareness is desperately needed for management strategies. Thus the second phase of the ongoing project is planned to assess this new information gap. Therefore this study will be useful in enhancing knowledge on seagrass in along the west coast (Kalpitiya to Thaleimannar).

Activities:

  • Sea grass distribution mapping
  • Sea grass species composition mapping
  • Analysis of substrate composition
  • Accessing the changes of sea grass extent over the time
  • Comparisons of sea grass cover over time

Target beneficiaries

Researchers and Coastal planners.

Outputs

  • Map depicting sea grass distribution in the study area
  • Maps depicting species composition 
  • Herbarium sheets

Accomplishments and challenges

The main challenge was the unexpected rain, wind and thundering which hampered field activities. Heavy rain coupled with the tide, waves and water currents made the lagoon extremely turbid. This compelled field work to be stopped temporarily as the visibility was extremely low and the water became unhealthy to snorkel due to the re suspension of sediments loaded with organic matters.

Contributions to cross-cutting themes

The knowledge generated was shared/presented: 

1) 19th Session of the Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, 16-17 May, 2913. Colombo, Sri Lanka.

2) 16th Conference of the European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP) & 7th Conference of the Environmental Management for Sustainable Universities (EMSU), Boğaziçi  University, İstanbul, Turkey, 4th -7th June, 2013.

3) Contribution to the National Red List (Ministry of Environment).

4) Data shared with the Marine Environment Protection Authority, Central Environmental Authority and the Coast Conservation Department.

Lessons Learned

  •  There is no common forum in Sri Lanka for scientists who work on sea grasses. It is suggested that a ‘Sri Lanka Seagrass Forum’ is initiated.
  • Knowledge about seagrass meadows, their economical and ecological values as well as their importance to livelihoods is still not existent among the majority of the general public.

Project Facts

Country

Location

Puttalam, Mannar

Topic

Duration

1st Jun 2012 to 31st May 2013

MFF Grant Amount

LKR 738,800/-

Co-financing Partner

LKR 450,000/-

Implementing Partner

Dr P.B.T.P.Kumara
Head of the Department
Department of Oceanography and Marine Geology
Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences & Technology
University of Ruhuna
Sri Lanka
Tel: + 94 41 22 27026
Fax: + 94 41 2227026

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