Marine Plants / Algae
Shoal grass, Halodule wrightii, is an early colonizer of disturbed areas and usually grows in very shallow water. The leaves are generally smaller than the other two species.
Two other species of seagrasses have been documented in Biscayne National Park: star grass (Halophila englemanni) and paddle grass (Halophila decipiens).
In addition to seagrass species, numerous species of macroalgae can be found in marine habitats throughout Biscayne National Park. Macroalgal species are often termed 'marine plants', however these species are non-vascular precursors to true plants. Although not exhaustive, the following list presents some of the more commonly observed species of macroalgae. Very few species of marine macroalgae have widely recognized common names, so only scientific names are provided.
Seagrass leaves are colonized by tiny organisms called epiphytes. Seagrass epiphytes are extremely diverse and include microalgae, macroalgae, bacteria, byrozoans, fungi, sponges, hydroids, crustaceans, and molluscs. Algal epiphytes are photosyntetic and contribute to the primary production of the ecosystem. Most of the larger fish and invertebrate consumers in seagrass ecosystem feed on seagrass epiphytes. Few organisms feed directly on seagrass leaves.
Did You Know?
Biscayne National Park's Dante Fascell Visitor Center's architecture is based on the old "House of Refuge" on Miami Beach, a place for shipwreck survivors to take shelter.