Seaweed scientist Professor Juliet Brodie tells us about the fantastic photos submitted through the Big Seaweed Search so far.
I’m fascinated by seaweeds and my research includes finding out about their diversity, and the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on their distribution. As part of this, I worked with my colleagues across the Museum to set up the Big Seaweed Search and I’m so pleased to see that lots of you have taken part and have sent your photos in for my research. I’ve just been exploring the first few months of data entered and I’m very excited by what I have seen so far.
Some people think seaweeds are dull and brown but I was very taken with this beautiful image of the pink coral weeds (white arrow) and calcified crusts (black arrow) growing together. Photo © Jessica Jennings
In particular, the photographs people have uploaded are excellent as they enable me to tell very quickly whether a seaweed has been identified correctly or not – this is essential for me to be able to use the observations in my research.
Not only are the images incredibly useful but some are truly inspiring and lovely to look at. So I thought that I would show you some of my favourites and tell you a little bit about the species, giving you some tips to help you to get to know them a little better.
Here are some of my favourite photos you’ve sent in (open the images to see the captions):
Sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima): This is a very nice example with the characteristic frilly frond. Image © Jan Gannaway
Spiral wrack (Fucus spiralis): This photo shows nicely the way this seaweed spirals as it grows, and you can also see the slight rim around the swollen reproductive structures (shown by a white arrow) – a characteristic feature of this seaweed. Image © Liz McLean
Channelled wrack (Pelvetia canaliculata): I always think the frond of this seaweed is like a mini drainpipe that has been cut through lengthwise. Most of the fronds are curled downwards, but look around the photo and you can see the channel on some fronds (especially at the bottom of the photo). Image © Matt Barnes
Thongweed (Himanthalia elongata): This photo is nice as it shows the two growth stages of this seaweed together – the round ‘buttons’ and the long straps (or thongs). Image © Matt Barnes
Wireweed (Sargassum muticum): This non-native seaweed is common but it can be difficult to photograph, especially if it is in a pool. The round air bladders are clear to see out of water in this image and the hand gives an indication of scale. Image © Jan Gannaway
Knotted wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum): I like the close up of the bladders here. Each frond produces one bladder per year. You can find out how old the seaweed is by counting the number of bladders along a frond. Image © Lucy Ward
Bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus): The paired bladders of this species can be seen well, with one on either side of the midrib for each pair. Image © Lucy Ward
Serrated wrack (Fucus serratus): It’s difficult to photograph this seaweed wet as the light reflects off the frond, but this picture is a good illustration of the saw-like or toothed edge of the frond. Image © Susannah
It’s really pleasing to see that we have Big Seaweed Search results from the Shetlands in the north and the Channel Islands in the south but there are some parts of the coast where we have little or no data yet.
For example, I would love to see more spots on the map from the south coast of England, Wales, the Outer Hebrides and Northern Ireland as well as more from the rocky east coasts all around the country.
It’s great to receive your results. Keep sending them in – the more data the better. You can get your copy of the Big Seaweed Search guide and recording form online or email email@example.com to request a hardcopy.