An American seaweed blog!

Internet is wonderful!

I was given a kelp granules shaker from my aunt after looking after her plants during her trip to the U.S. Near to addictive, sad was the day when my shaker was empty.

Lo and behold, today as I opened the blog, who has started following us but the producer of said granules! They even have their own seaweed blog, entitled Kelp: one of the worlds healthiest foods.

If you haven’t tried seaweed, but like salty snacks, I think you’ll like this.

My personal favourites are Wakame (Alaria esculenta) and Dulse (Palmara palmata). Excellent to nibble at during office hours or on a hike.

You’ll find their shop site amongst our Useful liks on the right hand side.

Advertisements

Roskilde revisited

Well, here we go!
After leaving the experiment with fragments (see previous post) in the basement at Roskilde University over Christmas and New Year, it was finally time to go back and see if any of the small fragments of ( Fucus radicans ) has been well behaved ande done what we want them to.

There can be MANY fragments on just one ramete of Fucus radicans

There can be MANY fragments on just one ramete of Fucus radicans

A quick refresher of the experimental background and purpose:
In the ​​Bothnian Sea, the brown macroalgae Fucus radicans has been shown to be up to 80% clonal, something that is unique among seaweed belonging to the Fucus – family.
However, it is not unusual for algae to adapt with a more clonal life cycle in brackish environments (salinity between 2-15 parts per thousand) because their sexual reproduction requires the sodium ions (NaCl – sodium chloride) from salt to work (see post about this here).

When it was discovered that Fucus radicans was clonal , it could also be described as a separate species. It was previously thought that it was a dwarf morph of Fucus vesiculosus, which is the dominant macroalgae in the Baltic Sea.

In order to reproduce clonally, fragments from one individual falls off from the parent plant and then attaches to the bottom again. But under what circumstances does this happen? What are the most favourable conditions for the fragments to re-attach? Should it be on hot summer days or cold winter nights?

Once we know this, we can understand more about when Fucus radicans is most sensitive to disturbances in the form of e.g. chemical emissions, eutrophication or construction work that affects the aquatic environment. We hope that our experiment can help to provide a better basis for management decisions concerning the Baltic Sea’s unique and fragile environment.

So, how did we set up our experiment?

We collected fragments from several plants of seaweed from different sites. Since we can neither afford nor have the time to run genetic tests on them to see that they are not all the same individual, which of course can happen when working with a species that is clonal, we made sure to get both males and females. For a longer story on startup, read the post on our startup HERE.

But on this trip it was time for me and my colleague Tiina Salo to do our first reading of the experiment.

Research is largely a matter of daring to fail, over and over again. The pile of rejected hypotheses about how one thought it might be is growing rapidly. Guess if we were surprised when our experiment had not only managed to run the whole time period without the electricity shorting out completely (except for some problems in the beginning that Tiina solved). We had results!

Two amazed PhD students could not believe their eyes.

So after checking all 96 replicates with four small fragments in each jar, I took out the bag with Fucus radicans that I had taken with me from Stockholm and we began to sort 384 new fragments into the jars for another round.

Fragments, fragments, fragments...

Fragments, fragments, fragments…

In the evening, I saw fragments when I closed my eyes.

Now, the second round is getting on and there will be a trip down again for me in early February to finish it, and hopefully get the same result as in our first round. You never know when it comes to seaweed, so keep your fingers crossed.

The wrack wall and how storms can tear seaweed from their rocks.

In the last posts, Lena has been reporting on all the interesting finds you can make on the beach after a storm. However, these haven’t been all that much about the different species of seaweed that gets washed ashore during strong winds. So, here is a small exposé of what she found after the storm Sven (Bodil in Denmark, Xaver in Germany).

In some bays on the west coast at Tjärnö, seaweed forms large beach walls whereas in other bays you will only find a few specimens of what is growing just a couple of meters off shore. Seaweed can also come entangled in ropes and lines from far away.
Image

A photo from a bay filled with seaweed forming thick carpets. Later in the year, in the summertime, they will have been decomposed and form a beach wall covered in lush green plants. Seaweed and algae make excellent compost due and was formerly gathered to fertilize the potato patches. If you find a bay full of seaweed you can collect some and put in your garden.
Image

On other shores, like in this photo, there is only some seaweed and the red alga Furcellaria lumbricalis in a band just by the water. This is the popular sandy beach at Saltö.
Higher up on the shore some distance away, i found a pile of rope and entangled algae. On closer examination, it turned out to be seaweed from quite some distance, maybe as far away as England.

Image
How can you tell that the seaweed is from far away and not just from next bay or further down the coast? If you look closely at the photo underneath, you’ll see some long, brown slightly knobbly bands, which are the reproductive organs (receptacles) of Himentalia elongata, which has never been found attached in Swedish waters. The nearest site is in Norway. In the pile there is also very large bladders of Ascophyllum nodosum and a form of bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus)with several bladders that is much more common in areas of higher salinity that at the Swedish coast.
Image
Those of you who look closely on the photograph will notice a red algae on the bottom right, like small, finely branched bushes attached to the Ascophyllum nodosum. This is one of many Polysiphonia species, and this particular species is commonly found growing on Ascophyllum nodosum and it is called Polysiphonia lanosa.
The wrack wall consists, as one might guess, mostly of wracks that have been washed ashore, both bladderwrack and serrated wrack (Fucus serratus). The smaller specimens were still attached to blue mussels (Mytilus edulis)and others had not attached hard enough to rock or boulder and had come loose.

Different sizes of wrack washed ashore, with accessories.

Different sizes of wrack washed ashore, with accessories.

Slightly larger specimens were washed ashore still attached to pebbles. A larger plant of seaweed is very firmly attached to the rock surface and you can lift the rock by holding the seaweed sometimes. It’s not until the wracks get really big that the pull of the wave manages to tear them loose from the rock or boulder to which they are attached. But, if you look closely on the bottom of the holdfast, there is a white calcareous layer. The wrack that has come loose with holdfast has once settled as a small germling on a crustose calcareous algae or a barnacle. So what has actually come loose by the wave force is not the seaweed holdfast, but the barnacle or calcareous alga that can no longer hold on to the rock surface.

sågtångsfäste

The photo shows a holdfast from a Fucus serratus with clearly visible white parts of a calcareous crustose alga.
nyårsskål för alger
And finally – a somewhat late toast for the new year and wishing you all a happy 2014 from the BalticSeaWeed blog.

Goodbye 2013!

Dear all!
A year has gone by since we first launched the BalticSeaWeed blog, the English version of the Swedish Tångbloggen. And what a year it has been!
We have been visited from nearly all continents, something we didn’t dare to dream of when we started.
It is wonderful that so many people have discovered us, the Baltic Sea and its seaweed community.

Map of visitors to the BalticSeaWeed blog during 2013

Map of visitors to the BalticSeaWeed blog during 2013

Flags of visiting countries  and number of visits per country to the BalticSeaWeed blog during 2013

Flags of visiting countries and number of visits per country to the BalticSeaWeed blog during 2013

These stats inspire us to keep bringing you news and facts from the Baltic Sea and the seaweed world.
We hope that those of you that have visited us in the past will keep doing so, and maybe recommend us to friends and family who have yet to discover the amazing world of seaweed.

Wishing you all a very seaweedy 2014
//BalticSeaWeed