Zostera marina

close-up photo of eelgrass, slimy green blades in a wavelike form
eelgrass rhizomes, or roots, visible above mud and water

Eelgrass rhizomes

eelgrass blades

Common Name: Eelgrass

Scientific Name: Zostera marina

Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family: Plantae, Tracheophyta, Liliopsida, Najadales, Zosteraceae

Habitat: Sandy-muddy sediment, bays, estuaries, shorelines

Range: Alaska to Baja California

Identification: Dark green, ribbon-like blades growing from rhizomes under the sand (rhizomes are underground plant stems that grow horizontally to put out new shoots)

map with 4 panels showing dramatic decline in eelgrass extent in morro bay in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017,.

Fact: Eelgrass creates important habitat for many species, but populations have been declining for over 80-90 years worldwide. Many restoration projects have been enacted, but highly disturbed shore communities have meant that natural recovery of eelgrass beds can be slow or not possible.

California Sea Grant, Cal Poly researchers, and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program are working to evaluate eelgrass restoration potential in the bay.

white birds walk along eelgrass at water's edge
CitationsMondragon, Jennifer, and Jeff Mondragon, 2003.Reynolds, Laura K., et al. 2013.