ONR Science & Technology Focus
               Oceanography       Space Sciences       Blow the Ballast!       Teachers' Corner   
Ocean in Motion Ocean Habitats Ocean Life Ocean Water Ocean in Regions Research Vessels Resources

Habitats: Seagrass - Characteristics

A sea grass bed.

Sea grasses grow on the shallow bottoms of healthy bays and estuaries. Occasionally found in cooler water, sea grasses prefer warmer water and shallow sandy bottoms where plenty of sunshine can reach their leaves. Unlike kelp and other seaweed, sea grasses are descended from terrestrial plants, which adapted to shallow non-rocky coastal waters.

Eelgrass, turtle grass and widgeon grass are common types of sea grass and are usually found along the Atlantic coast of North America. Some Alaskan estuaries are also known to have vast sea grass beds.

Sea grasses can produce a flower that blooms underwater. Seeds from these flowers will spread through the water and settle on the nearby sandy bottom producing more sea grasses. But this is not the only way sea grasses can reproduce. Their root-like structures (rhizomes), which are buried just beneath the sandy bottom, can sprout new grass-like leaves.

next page