Current status and checklist of seagrass in Sri Lanka

Susantha Udagedara, Dahanayakage Don Gihan Lakmal Dahanayaka


This work provides the revised and updated checklist of the seagrass in Sri Lanka based on primary and secondary information. It is indeed to be an update the list of Seagrass species in Sri Lanka prepared by Abeywickrama and Arulgnanam (1991), which now been nearly three decades back. More than forty (40) published pieces of literature, herbarium sheets in the National Herbarium and author’s personal observations since 2011 were reviewed. Sri Lanka belongs to the Indo-Pacific bioregion and 15 species have been recorded so far representing seven genera.  They are Enhalus acoroides, Halophila beccarii, H. decipiens, H. ovalis, H. major, H. minor, H. ovata, H. stipulacea, Thalassia hemprichii, Cymodocea rotundata, C. serrulata, Halodule uninervis, H. pinifolia, Ruppia maritima, and Syringodium isoetifolium with the estimated extend to be 37,137 ha. Halophila beccarii considered as a rare species, and has only been recorded in patchily distributed with few localities in Sri Lanka. Lack of evidences to cross check the identification of H. minor (only recorded in Negombo Lagoon) and H. ovata is a main drawback. The composition and distribution of seagrasses along the coastal zone of Sri Lanka is yet to be established. Therefore, island wide comprehensive and genetic studies could be positively contributed to fulfil the data gaps in future.


Seagrass, Checklist, Sri Lanka, Distribution, Conservation.

Full Text:



Abeywickrama B.A., Arulgnam P. (1991). The marine Angiosperms of Sri Lanka (Sea Grasses). UNESCO: Man, and Biosphere National Committee for Sri Lanka, Natural Resources, Energy and Science Authority of Sri Lanka, Publication. 18. 38 p.

Amarasinghe M.D., Thenuwara R., Fernanado S.S., Pahalawattaaracchchi V. (2003). Species richness and biomass distribution of marine angiosperm in Negombo lagoon. Proceeding of Sri Lanka Association of Advancement of Science, Colombo. 16 p.

Baldwin M. (1991). Natural Resources of Sri Lanka - conditions and trends. Report prepared for the Natural Resources, Energy and Science Authority of Sri Lanka, sponsored by the United States Assistance for International Development, Colombo. 290 p.

Bandara W.M.D.K., Kumara T.P.K., Gamage K.G.N.P. (2011). Shadow over Kappatathota (Eds), Seagrass-Watch news, 43. 28 p.

Blandon A., ZuErmgassen P.S.E. (2014). Quantitative estimate of commercial fish enhancement by seagrasses habitat in southern Australia, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 141: 1-8.

Cullen-Unsworth L.C., Nordlund L.M., PaddockJ., Baker D.S., McKenzie L.J., Unsworth R.K.F. (2013). Seagrass meadows globally as a coupled social–ecological system: Implications for human wellbeing, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 387-397.

Cullen-Unsworth L., Unsworth R. (2013). Seagrass Meadows, Ecosystem Services, and Sustainability, Journal Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 55(3): 14-28.

ullen-Unsworth L.C., Unsworth R.K.F. (2016). Strategies to enhance the resilience of the world’s seagrass meadow. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53: 967-972.

Dahanayaka D.D.G.L. (2009). A preliminary study on the distribution of sea grass communities and associated faunal diversity in the Puttalam lagoon, Sri Lanka, First National Symposium on Natural Resource Management, Department of Natural Resources, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. 47 p.

Dahanayaka D.D.G.L., Wijeyaratne M.J.S., Dassanayake G., Warnajith K.N.S., Tonooka H., Minato A., Ozawa S. (2010). Spatial distribution of sea grass species and associated fauna in the lagoon environment: Case study in Puttalam Lagoon, Sri Lanka, Proceedings of the 6th International Student Conference at Ibaraki University, Japan. pp: 168-169.

De Silva K.H.W.L., Amarasinghe M.D. (2007). Substrate characteristics and species diversity of marine angiosperms in a micro tidal basin estuary on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 12: 103-114.

Digamadulla K.M.D.S., Sivashanthini K., Thavaranjit A.C. (2016). Ecosystem based management approach; to sustain depleting seagrass beds at Mandaitheevu, The 3rd International Conference on Fisheries and Aquaculture Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Dugong & Seagrass Conservation Project (2019). Available from: Retrieved 11/09/2020.

Eklöf J.S. (2008). Shifts in tropical seagrass ecosystems. Doctoral Thesis in Marine Ecotoxicology, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Fortes M.D. (2012). Historical review of seagrass research in the Philippines, Coastal Marine Science, 35(1): 187-181.

Fourqurean J.W., Duarte C.M., Kennedy H., Marba N., Holmer M., Mateo M.A., Apostolaki E.T., Kendrick G.A., Krause-Jensen D., McGlathery K.J., Serrano O. (2012). Seagrass ecosystems as a globally significant carbon stock. Nature Geoscience, 5: 505-509.

GISD (Global Invasive Species Database) (2015). Species profile Halophila stipulacea. Available from: Retrieved 01/10/2020.

Gunatilleke N., Pethiyagoda R., Gunatilleke S. (2017). Biodiversity of Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 36: 25-61.

Hemminga M.A., Duarte C.M. (2000). Seagrass ecology. Cambridge University Press. New York. 298 p.

Philcox D. (1995). Hydrochartaceae. In: M.D. Dassanayake, F.R. Fosberg, W.D. Clayton (Eds.). Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, Volume 9. New Delhi: Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. pp: 91-104.

ISEANP (2014). Integrated Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. 2014. A Multi-agency approach coordinated by the Central Environmental Authority and by the Disaster Management Centre, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 145 p.

Jayasuriya P.M.A. (1991). The Species Compassion, Abundance and the Distribution of Seagrass Communities in Puttalam Lagoon, Vidyodaya Journal of Science, 3(2): 93-102.

Jayathilaka R.A.M., Jayanatha J.S., Suwandahannadi W.K., Hettige N.D., Jayasiri H.B. (2017). Diversity of flora and fauna in Rekawa Lagoon, Southern coast of Sri Lanka. International Scientific Sessions, National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA). 43 p.

Johnson P., Johnstone R. (1995). Productivity and nutrient dynamics of tropical seagrass communities in Puttalam lagoon, Sri Lanka. Ambio, 24: 411-417.

Joseph L. (2011a). Fisheries and environmental profile of Negombo lagoon, Sri Lanka: A literature review. Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (GCP/RAS/237/SPA) Field Project Document 2011/LKA/CM/04. 59 p.

Joseph L. (2011b). Fisheries and environmental profile of Chilaw lagoon, Sri lanka: A literature review. Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (GCP/RAS/237/SPA) Field Project Document 2011/LKA/CM/05.40 p.

Kenworthy W.J., Wyllie-Echeverria S., Coles R.G., Pergent G., Pergent C. (2006). Seagrass conservation biology: an interdisciplinary science for protection of the seagrass biome. In: Larkum, et al. (Eds.). Seagrass Biology. Springer, Netherlands. pp: 595-623.

Kumara P.B.T.P., Udagedara U.S.C. (2012). Sea grass habitat degradation and marine snakes in the Puttalam lagoon, Sri Lanka. The Board of Study in Zoological Sciences (PGIS) Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sri Lanka and the International Research Centre (InRC), University of Peradeniya, November 28-29. 61 p.

Liu S.Y.V., Kumara T.P., Hsu C-H. (2020). Genetic identification and hybridization in the seagrass genus Halophila (Hydrocharitaceae) in Sri Lankan waters. Peer J 8: e10027.

Mathiventhan T., Jayasingam T. (2004). Preliminary Investigation of Abundance of Seagrass bed, Thalassia hemprichii at Koneshapuri, Trincomalee. The Sri Lanka Forester, 27: 21-26.

Miththapala S. (2008). Seagrasses and Sand Dunes. Coastal Ecosystems Series (Vol 3). Colombo, Sri Lanka: Ecosystems and Livelihoods Group Asia, IUCN. 36 p.

MOE. (2012). The National Red List 2012 of Sri Lanka; Conservation Status of the Fauna and Flora. Ministry of Environment, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 476 p.

MoMD&E. (2019). Biodiversity Profile - Sri Lanka, Sixth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Biodiversity Secretariat, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka. 211 p.

Nadiarti A., Riani E., Djuwita I., Budiharsono S., Purbayanto A., Asmus H. (2012). Challenging for seagrass management in Indonesia. Journal of Coastal Development, 15: 234-242.

NARA. (2013). Report on Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) for Kokilai Bridge Construction, National Aquatic Research and Development Agency (NARA), Colombo. 15 p.

Orth R.J., Carruthers T.J.B., Dennison W.C., Duarte C., Fourquerean J.W., Heck K.L., Hughes R.A., Kendrick G., Kenworthy J.W., Olyarnik S., Short F.T., Waycott M., Williams S.L. (2006). A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems. Bio-Science, 56(12): 987-996.

Pernetta J.C. (1993). Marine Protected Area Needs in the South Asian Seas Region. Volume 5: Sri Lanka. Marine Conservation and Development Report. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 67 p.

Pinto L., Punchihewa N.N. (1996). Utilisation of mangroves and seagrasses by fishes in the Negombo Estuary, Sri Lanka, Marine Biology, 126: 333-345.

Ranatunga R.R.M.K.P., Pethiyagoda P.D.R.S. (2015). Spatial Distribution and Species Composition of Seagrasses in Mannar Lagoon. Proceedings of the International Forestry and Environment Symposium 2015 of the Department of Forestry and, Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

Rashee M., Unsworth R.K.F. (2011). Long-term climate-associated dynamics of a tropical seagrass meadow: Implications for the future. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 422: 93-103.

Samarakoon J.I., van Zon H. (1991). Environmental profile of Muthurajawela and Negombo Lagoon. Euroconsult /Greater Colombo Economic Commission, Colombo. 208 p.

Samarasekara V.N. (1996). Local perceptions of environmental change in a tropical coastal wetland: The case of Koggala Lagoon, Galle, Sri Lanka, A Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies. 328 p.

Saenger P., Gartside D., Funge-Smith S. (2013). A review of mangrove and seagrass ecosystems and their linkage to fisheries and fisheries management, report to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok, Thailand. 343 p.

Short F.T., Wyllie-Echeverria S. (1996). Natural and human-induced disturbance of seagrasses. Environmental Conservation, 23: 17-27.

Serrano O., Lavery P.S., Kendrick G.A., Hickey S., Masqué., Arias-Ortiz P.A., Steven A., Duarte C.M. (2016). Impact of mooring activities on carbon stocks in seagrass meadows. Scientific Reports, 6: 23193.

Short F.T., Polidoro B., Livingstone S.R., Carpenter K.E., Bandeira S., Bujang J.S., Calumpong H.P., Carruthers T.J.B., Coles R.G., Dennison W.C., Erftemeijer P.L.A., Fortes M.D., Freeman A.S., Jagtap T.G., Kamal A.H.M., Kendrick G.A., Kenworthy J., La W., Nafie Y.A., Nasution I.M., Orthm R.J., Prathep A., Sanciangco J.C., Tussenbroek B.V., Vergara S.G., Waycott M., Zieman J.C. (2011). Extinction risk assessment of the world’s seagrass species. Biological Conservation, 144: 1961-1971.

Silva E.I.L., Katupotha J., Amarasinghe O., Manthrithilake H., Ariyaratne R. (2013). Lagoon of Sri Lanka: from the origins to the present. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 122 p.

SLCZCRMP. (2018). Sri Lanka Coastal Zone and Coastal Resource Management Plan – 2018, Prepared under Section 12(1) of the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Act, No. 57 of 1981, Gazette Extraordinary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, No 2072/58. 141 p.

Kumara P.B.T.P., Udagedara U.S.C. (2012). Sea grass habitat degradation and marine snakes in the Puttalam lagoon, Sri Lanka. Board of Study in Zoological Sciences (PGIS), Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sri Lanka and the International Research Centre (InRC), University of Peradeniya, November 28-29. 61 p.

Udagedara U.S.C., Dahanayaka D.D.G.L., Kumara P.B.T.P. (2017b). Current status of the Seagrass of Sri Lanka and their research needs related to climate change, International Conference on Climate Change 2017, Colombo.

Udagedara S., Dahanayaka D.D.G.L. (2017). Seagrass of Sri Lanka: Research Priorities and Conservation Challenges, Wild Lanka International Symposium-2017, Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka. 49 p.

Udagedara U.S.C., Kumara P.B.T.P. (2014). Present status of Seagrass ecosystems in the Puttalam lagoon, Sri Lanka, the 11th International Seagrass Biology Workshop, 6-10th November 2014, Sanya, China. 62 p.

Udagedara U.S.C., Kumara P.B.T.P. (2013). Mapping of seagrass bead in Puttlam lagoon as a tool for the future management, Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resource, 9th Annual Scientific Session, 16-17 May 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 36 p.

Udagedara S., Fernando D., Perera N., Tanna A., Bown R. (2017). A first record of Halodule pinifolia Miki den Hartog, and new locality of nationally endangered Halophila beccarii Asch, from the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, International Journal of Aquatic Biology, 5(5): 328-335

UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) (2020). Out of the blue: The value of seagrasses to the environment and to people. UNEP, Nairobi. 95 p.

Unsworth R.K.F., Collier C.J., Waycott M., Mckenzie L.J., Cullen-Unsworth L.C. (2015). A framework for the resilience of seagrass ecosystems. Maine Pollution Bulletin, 100: 34-46.

Unsworth R.K.F., Jone B.L., Cullen-Unsworth L.C. (2016). Seagrass meadows are threatened by expected loss of peatlands in Indonesia. Global Change Biology, 22: 2957-2958.

Vanderklift M.A., Gorman D., Steven A.D.L. (2019). Blue carbon in the Indian Ocean: a review and research agenda. Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, 15(2): 129-138.

Wadhwa B.M. (2000a). Cymodoceaceae. In: M.D. Dassanayake, W.D. Clayton (Eds.). Revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon, Volume 14. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. pp: 202-208.

Wadhwa B.M. (2000b). Potamogetonaceae. In: M.D. Dassanayake, W.D. Clayton (Eds.). Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, Volume 14. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. pp: 265-271.

Waycott M., Duarte C.M., Carruthers T.J.B., Orth R.J., Dennison W.C., Olyarnike S., Calladine A., Fourqurean J.W., HeckK. L.Jr., Hughese A.R., Kendricki G.A., Kenworthy W.J., Short F.T., Williamse S.L. (2009). Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106: 12377-12381.



  • There are currently no refbacks.