Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Habitats for Marine Algae

The key to habitats for marine algae is light for photosynthesis--the ability to synthesize carbohydrates using energy from the sun. What physical conditions promote photosynthesis and allow plant growth and reproduction? The critical aspects are light, water quality and temperature, availability of carbon and other essential nutrients, and depth or tidal exposure.
Monterey Bay is home to a diversity of seaweeds growing on nearshore intertidal and subtidal rocks surrounded by cold, clear, nutrient-rich waters. Macroalgae also thrive in cold temperate oceans around the world and in polar oceans, including the Antarctic and Arctic. Tropical seaweeds tend to be diverse, but smaller in stature when compared to seaweeds in colder, nutrient-rich waters. In the tropics, algae grow on hard substrata like beachrock, coral reefs and on the roots of mangrove trees. Some Chlorophyta have evolved to grow on subtidal sandy plains in tropical seas.

Monterey Bay Habitats

  • Rocky intertidal zone
  • Subtidal rocks
  • Kelp forests

Tropical Caribbean Habitats
  • Coral Reefs
  • Subtidal Sand Plains
  • Mangrove Mangels

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009