List of Ocean Plants

List of Ocean Plants
The vast ocean contains a large array of plant and animal life. According to National Geographic, the ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of the planet. It holds 320 million cubic miles of water. The deepest parts of the ocean may have little or no plant life. Because ocean plants need sunlight, most are either designed to float on the surface of the water or grow on the ocean floor in water that is shallow enough to receive adequate sunlight.

6 Types of Plants That Live in the Ocean

Many kinds of plants live in the ocean. Examples include: 

1. Kelp

Kelp (picture above) grows in cold coastal waters. It is the largest marine plant in the world and can reach up to 250 feet. Kelp is also the fastest-growing plant in the world. Kelp is typically brown and lives on the surface of the ocean. It stays afloat with the help of small flotation bulbs that support it.

2. Seaweed

seaweed on beachSeaweed is a form of microscopic algae called phytoplankton that floats on the surface of the ocean, much like kelp.Seaweed has been harvested by humans for thousands of years as food, material for housing, rope and baskets. It is even used as medication.A surplus of seaweed can choke out coral reefs. Fish that eat seaweed help mitigate this problem.

3. Seagrass

sharks in seagrassSeagrass grows in shallow water because it needs lots of sunlight. These plants have roots and live on the ocean floor. They are true flowering plants. Some types of seagrasses are turtle grass, manatee grass and shoal grass.
Seagrasses provide habitat for small fish and other young marine life such as lobsters. These animals are able to hide from predators in the grasses. Other reef fish feed on the grasses.

4. Red Algae

red algaeRed algae grows in warm tropical water. This tropical ocean plant has been growing in oceans for more than 500 million years. According to the University of California-Berkeley, red algae are red, "because of the presence of the pigment phycoerythrin; this pigment reflects red light and absorbs blue light. Because blue light penetrates water to a greater depth than light of longer wavelengths, these pigments allow red algae to photosynthesize." Red algae is harvested as food, especially in Asia. It has a high protein content and many vitamins.

5. Coral and Algae

purple coral californiaCoral is not a plant; it is an animal organism. However, coral reefs get their color from the many species of algae that live on the surface of the coral. Coral polyps are translucent or white. Algae attaches itself to the coral and feeds the coral, which eats the nutrients created as byproducts of the algae's photosynthesis. Coral is also a carnivore; it has barbed tentacles that it can use to capture small fish. Though coral is an animal, it relies on a symbiotic relationship with algae to keep it alive.

6. Coralline Algae

anemone on coralline algaeCoralline algae consists of very fine filaments that grow over rocks. These plants may seem more like rocks than plants, and they are as hard as cement. Coralline algae helps support the structure of coral reefs. They do this by forming a hard crust that fills in the fragments and gaps between pieces of coral to form reefs. 


Exploring Ocean Plants

Of course, these are just a few example of the many plants in the ocean biome. Any time you are traveling near an ocean, make a point to go into the water and explore for a chance to view these amazing sea plants for yourself. Whether you go snorkeling, or scuba diving in the Atlantic, the Pacific, or one of the other oceans, you're sure to be awed by what you see on or below the water's surface. Familiarize yourself with the names of ocean plants native to the area you're visiting so you can properly record what you discover. 

Article Written By Cate Rushton

Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

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