What Plants Live in the Atlantic Ocean?

Millions of plants and animals are located in the Atlantic Ocean. Most live only near the sunlit surface; however, a variety of bottom-dwelling animals and plants can be found. These plants can have roots which attach to the bottom of the ocean or be free-floating and drift about in the water.

Staghorn kelp, Santa Cruz Island
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A variety of plants can be found in the Atlantic Ocean.


A close-up of kelp
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Kelp are large, brown seaweeds of any variety that live on rocky shores of the ocean. One type of kelp, called the giant kelp, can grow up to 200 feet tall. Other kelp varieties contain only a single branch and reach approximately three feet long. Kelp contains over 70 minerals, vitamins, proteins, enzymes and trace elements. Ascophyllum nodosum is a variety of kelp that is found most commonly in the Atlantic Ocean. The variety of kelp is often collected on rocky shores and used for fertilizer. According to Simply Hydro, it has been proven that kelp can accelerate growth, provide resistance to disease and increase fruiting and flowering.


Humpback whale group lunge, feeding, Southeastern Alaska, USA
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Some whales feed on phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton is naked to the human eye and grows abundantly in many oceans. Like plants, phytoplankton requires sunlight, nutrients and water to grow. These plants are single-celled and are floating plants. This type of ocean plant is usually found far from the shore. Many small fish and whales eat phytoplankton. Phytoplankton includes seaweed and algae, which can both be found in the Atlantic Ocean.


Striped Burrfish (Chilomycterus schorafi)
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Fish swimming through seagrass.

Seagrasses live underwater and are flowering plants. These plants produce oxygen and are located in the Gulf of Mexico. Seagrasses help maintain water clarity, provide habitat for many fish and are food for many marine animals. Approximately 52 different species of seagrass exist. Most of these are greenish-brown in color and root to the bottom of the ocean. Some types of seagrasses include turtle-grass, star-grass, manatee-grass, paddle-grass and Johnson's seagrass. Seagrass leaves provide protection for small marine animals, as they can hide from predators by ducking behind the leaves.

Thong weed

Seaweed on beach in Quebec, Canada
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Thong weed can be found on exposed shores.

Thong weed can be found on exposed shores or around kelp. The fronds are small, mushroom-shaped buttons that grow into long, strap-like leaves. The buttons are less than an inch in diameter and the leaves will grow from the center of the button up to six feet in length. This plant will only live for approximately two to three years and is olive-green in color.