Taking action to conserve understudied key seagrass species in Osa, Costa Rica

Marylaura Sandoval Siles

Seagrasses provide essential ecosystem services and play a key role in protecting other endangered species. However, they are experiencing an alarming decline, and conservation and scientific efforts are nearly nonexistent, especially in middle- to low-income countries (Short et al. 2006, Barros et al. 2014). Costa Rica is no exception. Little is known about seagrass ecosystems here, but in recent years, its importance for the country and the meadows present in the Osa Peninsula region are starting to be noticed (Samper-Villa Real et al. 2018). The Osa Peninsula is a privileged area, being one of the only four tropical fjords in the world. However, agricultural contamination and a growing tourism industry is endangering its ecosystems, including seagrasses.

This project will use SeagrassWatch and CARICOMP protocols, as well as known citizen science and education techniques, to obtain a technical report on the conservation status of Osa's seagrasses and initiate a plan for their restoration, regulation and management through the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Environment. Local communities will also be made aware of the importance of seagrass ecosystems and associated conservation challenges.