Posidonia oceanica, commonly known as Neptune grass is one of 70 species of seagrasses covering the globe’s shallow coastal plains. They provide habitat for fish, sea horses; food for sea turtles, waterfowl and marine animals; and nurseries for 20 percent of the planet’s largest fisheries. They are the forgotten ecosystem, yet they are among the most productive natural habitats on land or sea. They cover 116,000 square miles of the earth’s ocean floors along every continent except Antartica. These “ecological engineers” shape much of the world around our coastlines, holding down the seafloors with their roots, keeping sediment in place, improving water clarity and serving as a filter for our coastlines.
Perhaps most importantly for our times, they pull in carbon dioxide and oxygenate our oceans. A new U.N. report estimates that seagrasses may perform 18 percent of the ocean’s carbon sequestration, even though they cover only 0.1 percent of the ocean floor. These blades of grass growing from 4 inches to 35 feet are God’s silent work seahorses.
But perhaps not so silent. Carlos Duararte, a leading international seagrass expert in Saudia Arabia, on the banks of the Red Sea, describes a “scintillating sound when you lie in seagrass meadows” which comes from the burst of oxygen bubbles the seagrasses produce. Putting a finer point on it, he says the bursting of these bubbles sounds like “little bells.” These bells serve as clarion calls to fish, inviting them to come and lay their eggs for populating the oceans’ future.
The Psalmist is so often a prescient poet, describing the creation with pre-scientific knowledge with amazing insights. “Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord” (Ps. 98:7-9). The spiritual poets and the modern scientists are each revealing the sounds of the earth we don’t typically hear because our hearing is limited physically and spiritually. It conjures in me a profound sense of humility before God who orchestrates these underwater handbell choirs ringing hymns of praise and entertaining those fellow creatures who simply enjoy an amazing concert.
The more I learn about the intricate beauty of God’s creation, the more I feel profound humility. One lifetime will not suffice to hear all the beauty of the earth and sea. It must be one of the reasons God created eternity. As the scientists discover more and more of these musical grassy meadows in our oceans, they must be thinking, “The poets were right all along.” Yes, the sea resounds and everything in it. Sola de gloria!