In an effort to establish the extent of seagrass meadows in the Bahamas, researchers attached cameras and trackers to the dorsal fins of tiger sharks to give them access to hours of ocean floor footage.
The results showed the world’s largest known seagrass ecosystem that stretch across up to 92,000 sq. km in the Caribbean seabed. This discovery extends the total known global seagrass coverage by more than 40per cent, according to the study.
Prof Carlos Duarte, of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology said the “finding shows how far are we from having explored the oceans, not just in the depths, but even in shallow areas.”
Between 2016 and 2020, as the Guardian’s Laura Paddison notes, researchers fixed camera packages, equipped with satellite and radio tags, to the dorsal fins of seven sharks.
“They reeled in the animals to affix the cameras in an operation Shipley likened to a that of a “Nascar pit crew”… it took about 10 minutes to tie on each bright orange camera using biodegradable cable ties and a dissolvable time-released swivel. After about six hours, the swivel corroded in the seawater and the whole package floated to the surface, where scientists could pick it up,” he reports.
Richard Unsworth, an associate professor at Swansea University and the founder of the Project Seagrass charity said using marine animals like this opens “a window on to the marine world” and can help answer questions about the climate and biodiversity crises.