Fuzzy Seaweed Gallery

Seaweed communities are now often seen to be dominated by finely branching or filamentous species, in various textures and colors. I'll not attempt to identify all these species, but just to illustrate the trend, which is a departure from the normal plant growth seen in this area several decades ago. Heavier perennial seaweeds (kelp, rockweed, Irish moss) were darker and more dominant in the past. "Fuzzy" weeds existed, but not to the extent that they do today. People's first reaction to seeing all this fluffy-looking abundant algae, is often to attribute the change to 'nutrient pollution.' But an examination of the coexisting heavier algae species in clean habitat seems to offer a clear signal of 'nutrient shortage' (lower pigmentation, stunted growth). There can only be one correct interpretation of the nutrient availability question to the seaweeds - my interpretation is that the finely branching species simply have an advantage today under conditions of lowered nutrient availability, due to their relatively higher surface area.

(links to other seaweed galleries: kelp - rockweed - green seaweed - Irish moss - barnacles )
Photo gallery index

Fine growths in an assortment of colors and textures grow with very pale (nutrient deprived) subtidal Irish moss along clean N.S. coastline.

Larger seaweeds such as Codium fragile develop 'fuzziness' as well in conditions of scarce nutrients.

Many colors and textures, but all having high surface area:volume ratios, with pale Irish moss and Jonah crab.

More fuzz in a very clean location.

...more of the same, even the fuzz is very pale in mid-summer. Corallina undergrowth, normally pink, appears white.

Fine tan-brown epiphyte on Irish moss appears underwater as fluffy balls. Note pale (poorly fertilized) kelp.

Typical view in clean subtidal area: pale, deteriorating kelp, pale Irish moss, and abundant filamentous fuzz (which is also pale).

On a clean beach this fine tan growth is now prominent just below the low tide mark. Decades ago this was not seen here.

Fuzzy growth also occurs in nutrient rich environments, like this kelp in October in sewage polluted Halifax harbour.

Fine epiphyte overgrowing yellowed rockweed on clean beach.

Assorted fuzzy growths with apparently 'stressed' looking rockweed and kelp.

All photos copyright Debbie MacKenzie. Reproduce them if you like, just please credit the source.

(links to other seaweed galleries: kelp - rockweed - green seaweed - Irish moss - barnacles )

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