Seagrasses provide an ideal environment for marine ecosystems to thrive. In British Columbia it has been estimated that 80% of shellfish and commercial fish species depend on eelgrass during some part of their life cycle. On many dives I’ve been fascinated by the abundance of small fish and shrimp encountered in the protective areas of eelgrass meadows. A plant is called seagrass if it is secured to the seafloor by a root system, has flowers that are pollinated underwater, lives in salt water, and grows fully submerged.
Seaweeds may resemble plants, but are actually complex forms of algae. Seaweeds have specialized root-like structures called holdfasts that keep them anchored to the ocean floor, as well as simplified leaf structures that make use of sunlight. Seaweeds are found in green, brown, and red colour varieties. Kelp on the west coast is a brown variety that grows the largest, and swimming through a giant kelp forest on a sunny day is an amazing experience. About 70% of the world’s oxygen is created by species of phytoplankton (microalgae) and kelp.