Desalination has the potential to provide an important source of potable water to growing coastal populations but it also produces highly saline brines with chemical additives, posing a possible threat to benthic marine communities. The effects of brine (0%, 50%, 100%) were compared to seawater treatments with the same salinity (37, 46, 54 psu) for seagrass (Posidonia australis) in mesocosms over 2 weeks. There were significant differences between brine and salinity treatments for photosynthesis, water relations and growth. Germinating seedlings of P. australis were also tested in brine treatments (0%, 25%, 50%, 100%) over 7 weeks followed by 2.5 weeks recovery in seawater. Growth was severely inhibited only in 100% brine. These experiments demonstrated that brine increased the speed and symptoms of stress in adult plants compared to treatments with the same salinity, whereas seedlings tolerated far longer brine exposure, and so could potentially contribute to seagrass recovery through recruitment.