Eelgrass and Hay Meadows


This painting of eelgrass made me think of blades blowing in the breeze as well as loosely undulating in the shallows, which got me thinking of how meadows on land, as well as in the ocean, harbour a great amount of biodiversity. Obviously, a hay meadow can not compete with an aquatic eelgrass meadow with all its watery denizens of the not-so-deep, but it did make me wonder just how many species live in an honest-to-goodness traditional, farmer’s hay meadow. So, I thought I’d have a read (most of the literature out there concerns England’s hay meadows,
due to their growing concern of the loss of this important habitat) and found that the very richest hay meadows in the North Pennines, contain over 30 species of plant per square metre with up to 120 species per field.1 That’s a whole lotta plant variety in one little area. Of course eelgrass meadows, being aquatic, contain way more in terms of biodiversity; just the eelgrass blades offer a habitat for over 350 species of macro-algae and 91 species of epiphytic micro-algae alone!2 That is pretty crazy and you wouldn't find that in a hay-meadow, but then again, you can’t pick algae and give a bouquet to someone. Well, you can, but your spouse has to be really understanding.