An underwater plant species known as eel grass is thriving, after the introduction of the Isle of Man's first marine nature reserve.

A recent survey using specialist underwater camera equipment revealed an expansion of eel grass in Ramsey Bay Marine Nature Reserve (MNR).

When the designated MNR was originally setup, the area set aside to protect eel grass was around 0.5km.

The survey found the grass now covers around 2km and stretches from above Queen's pier eastwards beyond Stack Mooar.

This is good news, as it shows that our marine nature reserves are successfully protecting important habitats and species, which in turn support a range of activities, including commercial fishing and recreation."

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minster for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture

Marine scientists estimate that since the 1930s, there has been a 90% decline in eel grass meadows in the North Atlantic.

This was initially due to disease, but has more recently been due to pollution, poorly-managed coastal development and human interference.

Why is the grass important?

  • It takes carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

  • It accounts for 10% of the global annual ocean carbon storage.

  • It prevents coastal erosion.

  • It is a habitat for many types of fish such as cod, plaice and pollock.

  • It produces oxygen.

  • It helps to clean the ocean by absorbing polluting nutrients.