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Posidonia Oceanica


You may have found these small balls of odd matter on the beach in Mallorca, or if you haven’t, your children may have played with them or your grandchildren.

Be that as it may, in case you wondered, they are a waste-product of the Posidonia Oceanica which is a sea grass and a very important one at that. The Posidonia grass is not an algæ. Instead it belongs to the plant class of Liliopsidas. The grass blades grow to a length of 100 cm and in a depth of up to 40 m deep. The plant forms undersea meadows, some of which quite large.

The Posidonia only grows in clean unpolluted water and is considered by scientist an infallible testimony to a healthy marine environment. The sea grass is called the lung of the Mediterranean as it absorbs up to 16 litres of carbon dioxide per square metre/day. We are lucky here in the Balearic islands to have such a large existence of this important plant. Let’s hope it will remain so for a very long time. But the plant is already considered a threatened species requiring protection.


Anyway, the balls or Egagropili are created from the debris of the dead Posidonia leaves and other seabed matter, and are formed by the waves into small ball shaped specimen for your or your children’s enjoyment.

The main photo was chosen from my archive. It was not taken on the beach but in my house in the town of Felanitx, Mallorca. The date: October 2nd, 2007. The time was 15:19:08.

The smaller photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of M.A.P.A., the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Muchas gracias to them.

3 replies »

  1. Hello there. Someone mailed me the link to this as it has been a matter of interest for ages. Please contact me as I’d love to link you for this really useful stuff. Thanks.

  2. This has answered a query of mine, since my holiday a few weeks’s ago in Pollensa.

    Might you know what may have caused the organic debris (which looks like brown husk of some kind of tree), deposited on the beach at C’an Picafort. Much more mass could be seen out to sea and presumably that too would be moving towards the coast. It would have prevented anyone from swimming comfortably in the area…..hardly good for tourism.

    I remember that beach being absolutely clear and the sea too ….. many years ago. Might this be a problem only in springtime at this site?

    I was horrified to see such a swathe of this brown matter, and surprised to see a tractor moving the matter along the beach and forming enormous piles!



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November 2007


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