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16 Types of Seagrass in the Great Barrier Reef

by Fitriani

Inside the Great Barrier Reef, there are many types of thriving seagrass. These abundant seagrass on the sea floor certainly adds to the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. But what’s the most important is how each of them contributes to the wellbeing of other marine creatures as well as the ocean ecosystem. Below are 16 Types of Seagrass in the Great Barrier Reef along with their short explanations.

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1. Halodule pinifolia

The Halodule pinifolia often grows among other species of seagrass in the Great Barrier Reef. It thrives in areas where the amount of sand is high. Also, sand that is a bit muddy can help support the growth of this species. Dugongs like to feed on this seagrass.

The Halodule pinifolia is able grow up to 20 centimetres in length. The width of its leaves often reaches between 0.25 milimetres and 1 milimetres.

As for the leaf, the tip is round. The vein of this seagrass is a dark colour. It separates into two veins at each tip of the leaf.

2. Cymodocea serrulata

The Cymodocea serrulata is another Dugong’s favourite seagrass to munch on. This species is often known as Serrated Ribbon seagrass. The grass grows in areas where it is muddy. The Cymodocea serrulata’s leaf may seem straight and sharp at first.

However, it’s actually quite ribbony and blunt. The width is around 5 milimetres or 9 milimetres. The edges of the leaf appears to be sharp and serrated at closer inspection.

At the base of the leaf, sometimes there are reddish bands. The seagrass is able to withstand most disturbances that occur in the water.

3. Enhalus acoroides

The Enhalus acoroides seagrass is also called as the Tape seagrass. The seagrass grows in groups near the corals. This specific kind of seagrass is actually big and long. The leaf of the seagrass can grow up to between 30 centimetres and 150 centimetres long.

As for the width of the enhalus acoroides, it is around 1.75 centimetres. Another outstanding feature of the Enhalus acoroides is the thickness of the leaf.

Each of the leaf for the seagrass is very thick with dark veins running across. Due to the size of the seagrass, a group of it may form a wide and dense meadow.

Also read: Types of Jellyfish in the Great Barrier Reef

4. Halodule uninervis

A more common name for the Halodule uninervis is the Narrowleaf seagrass. The Halodule uninervis is found in the reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a species that is quite bigger than the previous seagrass, the Halodule pinifolia. The average length of this species is 15 centimetres. The leaf can be around 5 milimetres wide. The closer it is to the surface, the narrower the leaf is.

The wider leaf is preserved for the ones growing deep in underwater because they need to carry out heavy photosynthesis. Each root of the seagrass is able to grow around three seagrass. There are dark veins and scars on the leaves of the seagrass.

5. Cymodocea rotuntada

Unlike most seagrass that grow best in muddy areas, the Cymodocea rotuntada lives off better in areas that are sandy. The sand could also be a mixture of dead corals. The Cymodocea rotundata has a similar appearance to the Cymodocea serurulata. The length of this seagrass can be 15 centimeters long.

The width is between 2 millimetres and 4 millimetres. The Cymodocea rotuntada is straight with a slight curved structure. The tip of the leaf is blunt and a bit rounded. There are rings near the edge of the seagrass’ root.

Read more: Types of Stingrays in the Great Barrier Reef

6. Halophila decipiens

The Halophila decipiens can also be called as the Paddle seagrass. This seagrass grows best in the sea floor where it is muddy. A unique thing about the Halophila decipiens is the leaf. The leaf can allow light to pass through which makes it transluscent.

Other than that, it is also oval in shape. The seagrass can grow up to 25 millimetres with a width of 6 millimetres.

There are tiny hairs present on the front and the back of the leaf. The edges of the leaf are also jagged and sharp. There are also around 8 dark veins on each of the leaf.

Also read: Types of Dolphins in the Great Barrier Reef

7. Halophila ovalis

The Halophila ovalis is also known as the Spoon grass. It’s also often called as the Dugong grass since dugong likes to eat it. The Halophila ovalis is quite a small species of seagrass. The average length of the seagrass is around 20 millimetres.

Each leaf of the seagrass has up to 12 dark veins on it. The are no hair present on both sides of the leaf. On the other hand, the roots of this seagrass are covered in hairs. The 80 centimetres long roots are vital to the sea floor. They help to maintain the stability of the sea floor.

8. Halophila capricorni

The Halophila capricorni is a type of seagrass can be found in the Great Barrier Reef. But it’s a rare species and not a lot is known about it. To find this type of seagrass in the Great Barrier Reef, one has to dive deep into the sea floor. The seagrass only grows in the deepest parts of the sea.

The plant is small. The leaf of the seagrass is oval in shape. There are hairs present on both sides on each leaf of the seagrass. There are up to around 14 darkly coloured veins across the leaf.

Read: Types of Seaweed in the Great Barrier Reef

9. Halophila spinulosa

The Halophila spinulosa also goes by the name of Fern seagrass. This type of seagrass is often mistaken for seaweed. The Halophila spinulosa is also a favourite seagrass to be eaten by a Dugong. This seagrass can mostly be found growing in areas where there are many rocks or coral reefs.

The plant can reach 15 centimetres in length. There are 10 or 20 leaves on each shoot of the seagrass. The leaves are around 2.5 centimetres long with a width of 5 millimetres. The edges of the leaves are a bit sharp and jagged.

10. Halophila minor

The Halophila minor is a small type of seagrass in the Great Barrier Reef. The shape of the leaf on this seagrass is oval. Usually, the grows in pairs on each seagrass. There are also around 12 darkly coloured veins going across each leaf.

Although the Halophila minor is a tiny species, it is able to endure a bad condition in the water. It grows best at sandy areas near the coral reefs. It is also able to thrive in muddy sand. The plant can also be found in deep parts of the water, often forming a wide patch of seagrass.

Read: Types of Starfish in the Great Barrier Reef

11. Halophila tricostate

The Halophila tricostate is another type of seagrass growing in the famous reef. The plant can be quite big with the ability of growing up to 18 centimetres long. On each seagrass, there could be between 6 or 18 leaves. Each of the leaf on this seagrass varies from being 1.2 centimetres up to 2 centimetres.

The width of the leaf is an average of 4 millimetres. The edges of the leaf are serrated. The Halophila tricostata occurs mostly in the deep areas of the water. It can form a dense group of seagrass on the sea floor.

12. Thalassia hemprichii

The Thalassia hemprichii is also called as the Sickle seagrass. The reason for that is because of how the seagrass is shaped. The shape of this seagrass resembles a sickle. This seagrass is quite a large seagrass. The average length that the Thalassia hemprichii can grow up to is 40 centimetres.

There are usually black patches on the leaves called tannin cells. Each of the leaf on this seagrass is smooth and round. There are veins going across each of the leaves. The Thalassia hemprichii prefers to grow in the deep parts of the water.

Also read: Endangered Animals in the Great Barrier Reef

13. Thalassodendron ciliatum

The appearance of the Thalassodendron ciliatum is almost like Thalassia hemprichii. The Thalassodendron ciliatum grows best in areas where there are plenty of rocks surrounding it. Other than that, the stronger the currents in the water, the better it is for the health of the seagrass. The Thalassodendron ciliatum is ribbony in structure.

It can grow up to 15 centimetres long. The edge of the leaf is curled and the width is around 1.4 centimetres. The leaf can sometimes have a slight red strips. Moreover, the roots of the seagrass are very coiled.

14. Syringodium isoetifolium

The Syringodium isoetifolium can be found in the shallow parts of the Great Barrier Reef. The depth of the water should not exceed 15 metres. The length of each leaf on this seagrass is around 30 centimetres in length. All the leaves of this seagrass are very bendy, often described like spaghetti, but the are also narrow.

The tip of each leaf is pointy and quite jagged. Around 3 leaves could grow out of one seagrass. The Syringodium isoetifolium is quite a fragile species. It cannot withstand the slightest disturbance that could occur in the water.

15. Zostera capricorni

The Zostera capricorni is a common type of seagrass in the Great Barrier Reef. The leaves on the grass are usually long. The width and the narrowness depend on where the species grow since they are modified to keep the seagrass alive.

The tip of the leaf on this seagrass is usually round. This seagrass plays a role for providing a habitat to prawns that haven’t fully matured yet.

Read more: Endangered Species in the Great Barrier Reef

16. Zostera muelleri

The Zostera muelleri is quite a small type of seagrass in the reef. The structure of this seagrass is almost the same as the Zostera capricorni since they come from the same family. It is often called as Garweed. This type of seagrass is known for its rapid growth. Due to its fast growing ability, a group of this seagrass would form a meadow that help in regulating the carbon in sea water.

It serves as food for any marine animals and birds. It also provides a home to small fish and prawns.

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These seagrass may seem similar to one another but they do have their own identities and roles. The seagrass is important to the Great Barrier Reef for providing food and habitat to the marine creatures

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