British Wildlife 06.6 August 1995

The Meadows in the Sea

One day in the 1780s, the topographer William Gilpin sailed down the Lymington estuary in Hampshire and said of it that 'Its banks are mud, but of the best species; for they are clothed, like the other mudlands of the country, with sea-grass which gives them the air of meadows when the tide retires' (Gilpin 1791). Contemporary literature suggests that, until the appearance of a 'wasting disease' in the 1920s, it was the common condition of the intertidal mudflats and shallow waters of Britain and Europe to be thus clothed in sea-grasses, more usually called eelgrass or wigeon-grass.

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