SALTWATER AQUATIC VEGETATION OF SEA GRASS BEDS
The saltwater vegetation forms a very productive ecosystem, but it can be damaged severely if much disturbance takes place in nearby areas. For example, on the islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae, excessive soil runoff due to increased erosion on land may limit the sunlight available to the algae and sea grasses, stunting their growth, or even killing the plants. Reduced algae and sea grass growth may in turn limit the growth and development of marine animals dependent upon these plant organisms.
Where sea grass beds do occur they provide food and shelter for a number of animal species, including turtles. The two different species of marine turtles found in the Marshall Islands are jebake, the hawksbill sea turtle (Erytmochelys imbricata), and wōn, the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). It is said that turtles were more abundant in years past because the equipment used to catch the turtles was less efficient than the modern gear fisherman use today. Turtles are now caught and sold to markets in Ebeye and Mājro for special occasions. Hopefully this has at least become less common. They are also hunted at important nesting areas on sparsely inhabited or uninhabited northern atolls now that larger, faster boats are readily available.
Wūjooj-in-lojet (Thalassia hemprichii) is a species of sea grass referred to as "turtle grass" in English. It has only been reported from stands (or seabed's) in shallow water in Wūjlañ, Jālooj, and Aelōñļapļap Atolls. Wūjooj-in-lojet is dioecious, which means it has individual plants that only produce male flowers and others that only produce female flowers. This sea grass grows submerged in shallow coastal bays with its roots embedded in sand, mud, or in pools of tidal flats. The few stands of Thalassia in the Marshall Islands are probably the eastern limit of this genus of sea grass in the Pacific. Cymodocea rotunda is another species of sea grass, reported from Mājro and Arño Atolls.
Halophila minor is still another sea grass found in the Marshall Islands. It amy be a recent introduction (a possible alien species) in the Marshall Islands. It has only been reported from Kuwajleen Atoll.
Saltwater Aquatic Vegetation