Brightly coloured seaweeds were washing ashore at Studland Bay in Dorset on 21st May 2017. Isolated clumps of vivid red, green, and brown soft seaweeds, that looked attractive floating in the clear shallow water, or scattered individually on the yellow ribbed sand, soon accumulated into thick solid multi-coloured mats undulating on the water’s edge. When a mat of algae like this is pushed high with the rising tide, and left stranded on the upper beach, it decays rapidly to become what the human eye perceives as a rather smelly, ugly mess. For every other organism large or small on the beach, rotting seaweed is a marvellous bonanza of food and shelter, which also helps to stabilise the sandy beach for further colonisation by plants.
4 Replies to “Studland Soft Seaweeds”
I always find it interesting how they dry out to a crisp only to re hydrate when the tide comes back in.
They seem very resilient. Some of the seaweeds like red dulse are especially tasty when crispy and dry – that is, when washed and dried – not straight from the beach! I bought dulse to eat on from Rolands Sea Vegetables on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick.
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Your last sentence enlightened me, Jessica. Had never thought of that.
Yes, people often moan about piles of seaweed on the beach from a merely recreational point of view – but that particular kind of ‘debris’ serves a valuable purpose ecologically.