marine biology
Zostera marina
Zostera marina

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ypsilothuria talismani talismani to
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Species Name: Zostera marina


Common Names: eelgrass, eel-grass, eel grass, wrack grass



Zostera marina, commonly known as eelgrass, eel-grass, eel grass, wrack grass: green blades, found only in marine environment, there are 3 ecotypes of eelgrass in british columbia canada - phillipsi, latifolia, and typica. ecotypes have been described by backman in 1991 as having different habitat requirements. typica is the least common in bc. typica is found primarily in the intertidal with low tolerance to current, has short narrow blades. phillipsi is found between 0 and -4 m with more [edit]


Zostera marina is a marine species and Subgenus , the Zostera Zostera. It can be further characterized as in the Genus Zostera in the Family Zosteraceae. It forms part of the Alismatales Order, which is part of the Phylum Tracheophyta that is in the Kingdom Plantae. This organisms is a type of marine vascular plant.


Species recognition has been attributed to Linnaeus in the year 1753. [edit]

Identification and Characteristics Chart

Identification and Characteristics
Zostera marina
  • Green blades
  • Found only in marine environment
  • There are 3 ecotypes of eelgrass in British Columbia Canada - phillipsi, latifolia, and typica. Ecotypes have been described by Backman in 1991 as having different habitat requirements. Typica is the least common in BC. Typica is found primarily in the intertidal with low tolerance to current, has short narrow blades. Phillipsi is found between 0 and -4 m with moderate tolerance to current and has intermediate blade length and width, and latifolia is found between -0.5 and -10 m with strongest tolerance to current and has larger and wider blades.
  • Prefers sandy substrates or estuaries
  • Rhizomes anchor eelgrass to the sediment
  • Leaves are up to 1.2 cm wide by up to 1m long
  • A single plant has male and female flowers in separate alternating clusters
  • Can undergo vegetative reproduction from rhizomes
  • The fruit has a transparent coat containing the seed
  • [edit]
  • Vascular Plants
  • Conduct water through xylem
  • [edit]
  • Multicellular organisms
  • Have a cell wall made of cellulose
  • Obtain energy from sun typically with chlorophyll
  • Sexual or asexual reproduction
  • Modular and indeterminate growth
  • Alternation of generations
  • [edit]


    Look for Z. marina in the Sessile environment. Specimens can be found in the Subtropical zone. They are distributed around the world in the Eastern Pacific and Mediterranean Sea.Subtropical to temperate. Alaska to northern Mexico. They can be found at / are low intertidal to shallow subtidal. [edit]


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    Related Species and Genre

    There are 147 species or genre pages related to that have similar characteristics in our database. The most common are Zostera marina, zostera (zosterella) and zostera japonica. A complete list is shown below:

    1Zostera marinaeelgrass, eel-grass, eel grass, wrack grass[open]
    2zostera (zosterella)[open]
    3zostera japonicapublication is zostera americana den hartog 1970. [open]
    4zostera (zostera)[open]
    5zostera (zosterella) japonica[open]
    6zostera (zosterella) novazelandica[open]
    7zostera muelleri[open]
    8zostera (zostera) caespitosa[open]
    9zostera caulescens[open]
    10zostera polychlamys[open]
    11Palio zosterae[open]
    12zostera (zosterella) capricorni[open]
    13zostera americana[open]
    14zostera capricorni[open]
    15zostera chilensis[open]
    16zostera nolteipublication is nanozostera noltii (hornemann) tomlinson & posluszny heterotypic . [open]
    17zostera oceanica[open]
    18zostera (zostera) caulescens[open]
    19zostera (zosterella) capensis[open]
    20zostera caespitosa[open]
    21zostera ciliata[open]
    22zostera nana dwarf eelgrass [open]
    24zostera (zosterella) muelleri[open]
    25zostera (zosterella) noltei[open]
    26zostera angustifolia[open]
    27zostera asiatica[open]
    28zostera capensis[open]
    29zostera nodosa[open]
    30araeolaimus zosterae[open]
    31Heterozostera polychlamys[open]
    32zostera (zostera) marina[open]
    33zostera stipulacea[open]
    34zostera (zosterella) americana[open]
    35zostera marina var angustifolia[open]
    36zostera novazelandica[open]
    37zostera tasmanica[open]
    38labyrinthula zosterae[open]
    39Heterozostera nigricaulis[open]
    41zostera mucronata[open]
    42zostera nigricaulis[open]
    43zostera uninervis[open]
    44kushia zosteraphila[open]
    45Cyartonema zosterae[open]
    46polycera zosterae[open]
    47Microlaimus zosterae[open]
    48Mikrosyphar zosterae[open]
    49halanonchus zosterae[open]
    50Desulfovibrio zosterae[open]
    51Ectocarpus zosterae[open]
    53Heterozostera chilensis[open]
    54nanozostera noltii[open]
    55cytherois (orientocytherois) zosterae[open]
    56aegira zosterae[open]
    57Castagnea zosterae[open]
    58Desmolaimus zosterae[open]
    59Hymeniacidon zosterae[open]
    60mesogloia zosterae[open]
    61paralongicyatholaimus zosterae[open]
    62southernia zosterae[open]
    63rivularia zosterae[open]
    64metalinhomoeus zosterae[open]
    65acrochaete parasitica f zosterae[open]
    66amphibolis zosteraefolia[open]
    67Enoplolaimus zosterae[open]
    68Hermaea zosterae[open]
    69Hypodontolaimus zosterae[open]
    70Heterozostera tasmanica[open]
    71Leptocera zosterae[open]
    72myriocladia zosterae[open]
    73thoracochaeta zosterae[open]
    74linckia zosterae[open]
    75acrochaetium zosterae[open]
    76Elachista zosterae[open]
    77anticoma zosterae[open]
    78hippocampus zosterae[open]
    79Paralinhomoeus zosterae[open]
    80stiliger zosterae[open]
    81southerniella zosterae[open]
    82Pseudodiplosoma zosterarium[open]
    83Eudesme zosterae[open]
    84zostera marina\[open]
    85zostera oceanica\[open]
    86elachista zosterae\[open]
    87zostera marina\"[open]
    88zostera capricorni\"[open]
    89nanozostera noltii\"[open]
    90araeolaimus zosterae\"[open]
    91zostera (zostera) marina\"[open]
    92thoracochaeta zosterae\"[open]
    93southernia zosterae\"[open]
    94araeolaimus zosterae\[open]
    95hymeniacidon zosterae\"[open]
    96zostera (zosterella) capensis\"[open]
    97hymeniacidon zosterae\[open]
    98zostera (zosterella) capensis\[open]
    99zostera marina\"[open]
    100elachista zosterae\"[open]
    101zostera oceanica\"[open]
    102zostera (zosterella)\"[open]
    103zostera caulescens\"[open]
    104nanozostera noltii\[open]
    105rivularia zosterae\"[open]
    106zostera angustifolia\"[open]
    107zostera novazelandica\"[open]
    108zostera marina var angustifolia\"[open]
    110zostera (zosterella) japonica\"[open]
    111zostera asiatica\"[open]
    112microlaimus zosterae\"[open]
    113zostera (zostera) marina\[open]
    114polycera zosterae\"[open]
    115cyartonema zosterae\"[open]
    116zostera nana\"[open]
    117cytherois (orientocytherois) zosterae\"[open]
    118thoracochaeta zosterae\[open]
    119zostera capricorni\[open]
    120zostera (zosterella) capricorni\"[open]
    121castagnea zosterae\"[open]
    123halanonchus zosterae\"[open]
    124heterozostera polychlamys\"[open]
    125southernia zosterae\[open]
    126zostera uninervis\"[open]
    127zostera ciliata\"[open]
    128zostera caespitosa\"[open]
    129mikrosyphar zosterae\"[open]
    130desmolaimus zosterae\"[open]
    131zostera japonica\"[open]
    132zostera capensis\"[open]
    133zostera stipulacea\"[open]
    134labyrinthula zosterae\"[open]
    135metalinhomoeus zosterae\"[open]
    136heterozostera polychlamys\[open]
    138zostera marina\"[open]
    139labyrinthula zosterae\"[open]
    140zostera chilensis\"[open]
    141paralinhomoeus zosterae\"[open]
    142microlaimus zosterae\[open]
    143desmolaimus zosterae\[open]
    144zostera capensis\[open]
    145zostera nana\[open]
    146polycera zosterae\[open]
    147castagnea zosterae\[open]

    Species at Risk Status

    This species has not been identified as a concern in Canada under the Species at Risk Act.

    Physical Characteristics

    Z. marina can grow leaf blades to 2 m (6.6 tt) long, 1.5-12 mm (0.06-0.4 in) wide.

    Random Facts

    Zostera marina is a species of seagrass known by the common names common eelgrass and seawrack. It is an aquatic plant native to marine environments on the coastlines of mostly northern sections of North America and Eurasia. It is the most wide-ranging marine flowering plant in the Northern Hemisphere. It lives in cooler ocean waters in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and in the warmer southern parts of its range it dies off during warmer seasons. It grows in the Arctic region and endures several months of ice cover per year. It is the only seagrass known from Iceland. It can also be found in bays, lagoons, estuaries, on beaches, and in other coastal habitat. It occurs in calmer waters in the sublittoral zone where it is rarely exposed to air. It anchors via rhizome in sandy or muddy substrates and its leaves catch particulate debris in the water which then collects around the bases of the plants, building up the top layer of the seabed.
    This flowering plant is a rhizomatous herb which produces a long stem with hairlike green leaves that measure up to 1.2 centimeters wide and might reach over a meter long. It is a perennial plant but it might grow as an annual. The rhizome grows horizontally through the substrate, anchoring via clusters of roots at nodes. The plant is monoecious, with an individual bearing both male and female flowers in separate alternating clusters. The fruit is a nutlet with a transparent coat containing the seed. The plant can also also undergo vegetative reproduction, sprouting repeatedly from its rhizome and spreading into a meadowlike colony on the seabed known as a genet. One meadow of cloned eelgrass was determined to be 3000 years old, genetically. When undergoing sexual reproduction, the plant produces large quantities of seeds, at times numbering several thousand seeds per square meter of plants. The plant disperses large distances when its stems break away and carry the fertile seeds to new areas, eventually dropping to the seabed. The seagrass is a favorite food of several species of waterfowl, which might also distribute the seeds.
    This plant is an important member of the coastal ecosystem in several areas because it helps to physically form the habitat and it plays a crucial role for several other species. For example, it provides a sheltered spawning ground for the Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). Baby Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) hide in eelgrass beds as they grow. The Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) attaches to its leaves. The green alga Entocladia perforans, an endophyte, depends on this eelgrass. A great several animals use the plant for food, including the isopod Idotea chelipes and the purple sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. The Atlantic Brant (Branta bernicula hrota) subsists almost entirely on the plant. When the eelgrass dies, detaches, and washes up on the beach a whole new ecosystem is founded; several species of insects and other invertebrates begin to inhabit the dead plant, including the amphipod Talitrus saltator, the fly Fucellia tergina, and the beetles Stenus biguttatus, Paederus littoralis, and Coccinella septempunctata.
    Populations of the plant have been damaged by a number of processes, especially increased turbidity in the water; like most other plants, eelgrass requires sunlight to grow. One plant might adapt to light level by growing longer leaves to reach the sun in low-light areas; individuals in clear or shallow water might have leaves a few centimeters long, while individuals in deeper spots might have leaves over a meter long. Human activities such as dredging and trawling damage eelgrass meadows; practices used in scallop and mussel harvesting in the Wadden Sea have cleared much eelgrass from the sea bottom there. Aquaculture operations and coastal development destroy colonies. Pollution from several sources, including riverside farms, sewage lines, fish processing plants, and oil spills damage eelgrass meadows. Conservation and restoration efforts of Zostera marina habitats have been plenty since their rapid decline started several decades ago.
    Invasive species have been shown to have a negative effect on eelgrass and associated ecosystems. In Nova Scotia the invasive exotic green crab (Carcinus maenas) destroys eelgrass when it digs in the substrate for prey items. The decline of eelgrass in Antigonish Harbour has resulted in fewer Canada Geese, which feed on the rhizome, and fewer Common Goldeneye, which eat invertebrates that live in eelgrass meadows.
    The slime mold Labryrinthula zosterae caused a "wasting disease" of eelgrass resulting in large-scale losses in the 1930s; localized populations are still affected by the slime mold today. During this time, populations of the eelgrass-eating Atlantic Brant dropped. Remaining geese ate less-preferred food plants and algae and hunters subsequently noticed that Brant meat began to taste different. Even today Brants no longer migrate over the Nova Scotia area.
    People have long used this plant species as roof thatching in some areas. It has been used as fertilizer and cattle fodder in Norway for centuries. It could also be dried and used as stuffing for mattresses and furniture.
    The bacterial species Granulosicoccus coccoides was first isolated from the leaves of the plant.

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