Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater
“The seagrass appear to combat bacteria, and this is the first research to assess whether that coastal ecosystem can alleviate disease associated with marine organisms,” said lead author Joleah Lamb of Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, where she is a Nature Conservancy NatureNet fellow.
Senior author Drew Harvell, Cornell University professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and an Atkinson Center Fellow, had been running an international workshop and examining the health of underwater corals with colleagues near small islands at Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia. But after a few days, the entire research team fell ill with dysentery, and one scientist contracted typhoid. “I experienced firsthand how threats to both human health and coral health were linked,” Harvell said.
Lamb returned with an international team armed to test the waters. On these small islands freshwater is sparse, surface soil is thin and just off shore the marine environment teems with solid waste, sewage and wastewater pollution. Generally, the islands – though filled with people – do not have septic systems.
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