New Isle of Wight mural highlights importance of the Solent’s carbon-storing seagrass habitats

New Isle of Wight mural highlights importance of the Solent’s carbon-storing seagrass habitats

© Adrift 

A new mural, showcasing the Solent’s internationally important seagrass meadows, has been painted on a wall at the Isle of Wight Distillery by renowned wildlife street artist ATM.

The new artwork, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Trust's Secrets of the Solent project, has been created in time for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. It depicts a bed of seagrass accompanied by a spiny seahorse – a rare Solent resident that anchors itself to the plant using its long tail.

Seagrass meadows are very important in the fight against climate change as they absorb carbon dioxide in huge quantities locking it away in the muds and sands they grow on. They are one of the most efficient carbon‐storing habitats on Earth, performing better than tropical rainforests and accounting for 10% of the ocean’s total burial of carbon (despite covering less than 0.2% of the ocean floor). They also support rich biodiversity and provide crucial nursery and foraging areas for a variety of marine wildlife, including the UK’s two protected seahorse species.

Unfortunately, these vital habitats are at risk from pollution, human activity, and the effects of climate change. It is estimated that over 90% of UK seagrass beds have been lost over the past 100 years. The Trust hopes the new mural will inspire more people to learn about seagrass and its potential as a nature‐based solution for carbon sequestration.

Today, almost all the Solent’s seagrass meadows lie within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the Trust is partnering with local businesses to help restore them to their former glory.

Dr Tim Ferrero, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Marine specialist said: “Our internationally important and protected seagrass meadows are one of the Solent’s most defining marine habitats. The Trust is working with businesses, volunteers and the public to create a Wilder Solent and highlight the value of seagrass meadows for biodiversity and local fisheries, as well as the vital role these incredible blue carbon habitats can play in tackling the climate crisis.

“Helping seagrass to return to its historic levels needs a multi‐faceted approach combining active restoration with effective protection and environmental management to promote natural recovery. By using creative engagement techniques to highlight our practical conservation work, we hope to build a movement of businesses, volunteers and individuals acting for seagrass and all the marvellous marine wildlife living in our waters. ATM has really captured the vibrancy and beauty of the seagrass and its resident spiny seahorse and we are sure that this eye-catching mural will help inspire people to find out more and support the wonderful wildlife of the Solent.”

The Isle of Wight Distillery, host of the mural and home of Mermaid Gin, has committed its support to tackle the climate and nature emergency by working with the Trust to create a Wilder Solent.

Xavier Baker, Co‐Founder of the Isle of Wight Distillery said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust with its marine conservation work and the mural is a fantastic way of raising awareness about protecting seagrass and marine life in the Solent and beyond.

“We’ve worked hard to make our Mermaid Gin bottle plastic‐free and to achieve Net Zero status and we’re hugely excited to be getting involved with such a worthwhile organisation, taking action right outside our distillery door.”

This new mural is one of six artworks commissioned by the Secrets of Solent project which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project aims to engage people in a variety of creative ways, inspiring them to take meaningful action to protect the local marine environment and work for a Wilder Solent.

Artist ATM stands in front of completed mural © Adrift 

Artist ATM stands in front of completed mural © Adrift