Kelp beds growing offshore at Ringstead Bay in Dorset are normally underwater but they are revealed at very low tides. A seaweed-covered rock platform, extending seawards from the beach, provides a precarious access to the exposed and partially submerged kelp of a type called Oarweed, or Tangle – Laminaria digitata (Hudson) Lamouroux.
The kelp fronds feel like butter-soft leather and have a surface sheen like satin – gleaming or glistening according to how wet the straps were. The colours vary from a deep olive brown of drier blades, in the shade, or high and dry – to greeny yellow ochres of wetter fronds, part-submerged in water. Occasionally the kelp is decorated with intricate, fleeting patterns of golden reflected sunlight that dapples the fronds as they move gently in the lapping water.
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