Abstract We tested the capacity of Ulva lactuca to mark N sources across large marine areas by measuring variation in its δ15N at several sites in the Gulf of Gaeta. Comparisons were made with the macroalga Cystoseira amentacea. Variation of δ15N values was assessed also in the coastal waters off the Circeo Natural Park, where U. lactuca and C. amentacea were harvested, as these waters are barely influenced by human activities and were used as reference site. A small fragment from each frond was preserved before deployment in order to characterize the initial isotopic values. After 48h of submersion, U. lactuca was more responsive than C. amentacea to environmental variation and δ15N enrichment in the Gulf of Gaeta was observed. The spatial distribution of δ15N enrichment indicated that different macro-areas in the Gulf were affected by N inputs from different origins. Comparison of the δ15N values of fragments taken from the same transplanted frond avoided bias arising from natural isotopic variability.