BIOTIC Species Information for Zostera marina
Researched byDr Harvey Tyler-Walters Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byDr Leigh Jones
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandZostera marina has a wide but patchy distribution in southwest of England, the Solent and Isle of Wight on the south coast, Wales, western Ireland, western and eastern Scotland including Orkney and the Shetland Islands.
Global distributionWidespread through the Atlantic and Pacific. It is the only seagrass species that extends into the Arctic Circle. It has a restricted distribution in the Mediterranean.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range0 to 5m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationIn 1920s and 1930s the previously extensive beds of eelgrass were severely reduced by an outbreak of 'wasting disease', which appears to affect sublittoral Zostera marina primarily. To date, recovery has been poor or slow. An exceptional bed of Zostera marina occurs in the clear waters of Ventry Bay, south-west Ireland and extends from 0.5 to 10m in depth and up to 13m deep in some patches. It should be noted that the global distribution of Zostera marina includes records of Zostera angustifolia which is considered synonymous outside the UK. It extends from Arctic Circle in northern Russia to near Gibraltar, Spain along the European coast. In has a restricted distribution in the Mediterranean, limited to northern parts of Adriatic and Aegean Seas, brackish etangs and lagoons in southern France. On the western Atlantic coast it extends from west coast of Alaska to North Carolina. In the Pacific it is recorded from Japan, Korea and from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.

Substratum preferencesGravel / shingle
Muddy gravel
Sandy mud
Muddy sand
Physiographic preferencesEstuary
Isolated saline water (Lagoon)
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Wave exposureSheltered
Very Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowWeak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Hartog den, 1970, Phillips & Menez, 1988, Davison & Hughes, 1998, Jones et al., 2000, Stewart et al., 1994, NBN, 2002,
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