Do you know where your dock is??
Out of sight, out of mind. A very simple saying, but, oh so appropriate when it comes to what lies just below the low tide level at the ocean’s edge – the very place we chose to build our docks and floating structures.
We are blessed with many hectares of beautiful, abundant shorelines –places to swim, to play, to picnic, to enjoy our magnificent scenery, and something we tend to take for granted.
Just below that line of sight, under the water, grows a very important and sensitive true plant, eelgrass. Eelgrass is the long ribbon-like plant, which used to grow prolifically along many of our shorelines.
This plant has true roots, unlike the other “seaweeds” that grow at the ocean’s edge, and due to it’s dependence on photosynthesis to survive, is sensitive to shading and disturbance from human activities.
Why is this plant important? Not only does it provide oxygen for all of us, it is extremely efficient at sequestering carbon. Eelgrass helps to stabilize and protect the ocean floor and upland shore from the movement of storms and vessel traffic. It serves as a migration route, shelter, and feeding place for a myriad of ocean species. It is the first ocean stop for juvenile salmon in their adjustment to feeding and living at sea.
Eel grass at Armour's Beach
When we contemplate building docks and other structures, a very important factor to be considered is what is below the surface of that shoreline. It is easy to establish whether there is eelgrass present by waiting for the low spring tides and taking a look, or grabbing a mask and snorkel. Choose areas where you do not see the plant growing, and know that shading will not affect it.
We think of waterfront in terms of dollars and not in terms of sustenance for life on our planet – including ourselves. When considering building that dock, or placing that float for your boat, take an extra look to make sure you are not impacting what is under the water.