Seaweed Secrets Revealed

Wednesday 17th August 2011

Seaweed surveyors hard at workSeaweed surveyors hard at work

Scientists taking part in the first ever survey of seaweed to span the length of the east coast of England have discovered a variety of species including starlet sea anemones and a Coryphella sea slug off the Suffolk coast. A total of 26 species of seaweed which are currently being identified, were also recorded during the shore and dive survey.

The Seaweed East survey involved a team of surveyors, including renowned marine biologists, Seasearch divers, a botanist and a wild food expert, exploring 11 locations from Essex to Northumberland between 1-10 August. At each location they recorded and collected samples of every species of seaweed found. The survey was co-ordinated by The Wildlife Trusts working in partnership with other organisations.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust marine officer Gemma Smith said “ We are delighted to have been involved in such an exciting project, the records of which will help inform protection for Suffolk’s marine environment. It’s astonishing to see the diversity of marine wildlife along our coastline. Many of us are unaware of the uses of seaweed in our daily lives – it forms a key component of some textile dyes and is a key ingredient in ice creams and toothpaste.”

“The recording of the species in our area will hopefully help us raise awareness of the fantastic wildlife living off our shores and inspire a sense of pride in our local Living Seas.”

Findings form the whole survey so far include records of 131 species of seaweed of which four were non-native, reflexed grape weed, a seaweed never before recorded on the east coast and a purple sponge off Norfolk which is new to the UK and possibly science. All seaweeds collected from the survey will be pressed and scanned producing an east coast collection that will be available to view online.

The Wildlife Trusts helped fund and co-ordinate Seaweed East in conjunction with Seasearch – a volunteer organisation for divers to get involved with surveying the marine wildlife they encounter in the UK. Together with Shoresearch, The Wildlife Trusts will build up a picture of the marine wildlife our seas support. This information could be used in future to help identify areas of special importance for marine life both above and below the surface.

More information can be found at www.northseawildlife.org.uk

Tagged with: Living Seas, Marine, Seaweed