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Eritrea is in northern East Africa. The country is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast.  The east and northeast of the country have an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands are part of Eritrea.

Eritrea’s coastal, marine and island areas are amazingly diverse and include vibrant coral reefs teeming with colourful marine life, lush mangrove forests, flourishing seagrass, manta rays, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.



Seagrasses are fairly widespread along the Red Sea coast although they are more common in the southern Red Sea.

A recent rapid seagrass ecological assessment of 18 coastal and 27 island sites along the central and southern Eritrean Red sea waters found 8 out of the 11 available seagrass species in the entire Red Sea (Price, 1988).

The abundance of the seagrass species, namely Halophila ovalis, Halophila stipulacea, Thalassia hemprichii, Halodule uninervis, Syringodium isoetifolium, Thalassondendron ciliatum, Enhalus acoroides and Cymodocea rotundata, showed no significant geographic variation.

Two species, Syringodium isoetifolium and Thalassodendron ciliatum were unique to the southern Red Sea of Eritrea.

Halophila ovalis, Thalassia hemprichii, Halodule uninervis, Enhalus acoroides and Cymodocea rotundata were common throughout the surveyed sites.

The distribution pattern of Thalassia hemprichii was unique in that it showed clear zonation and high abundance ratio.

Seaweeds, seashells (Strombus tricornis), sea cucumber (Holothurian atra), starfish, Green turtle (Chlonia mydas) crabs, worms, sponges and many adult and juvenile fishes were among the conspicuous associated species in most seagrass beds.

Recent studies revealed that there are about 60 species of seagrass worldwide. Thirteen species are known from the Western Indian Ocean with 11 extending into the Red Sea. From this eight species belonging to two families are present in the Eritrean Red Sea coast. However little is known about the overall distribution and abundance of these species.

Knowledge of seagrass species distribution, abundance ratio, general mapping, effect of grazing, and other influencing factors (physical, biological and chemical) in the Eritrean marine environment is poor. In this primary biodiversity survey the distribution, abundance and mapping of the eight available seagrass species in the Eritrean Red Sea waters is to be discussed.




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