Seaweed Strands with Crinkled Kelp

Thick mats of seaweed wash ashore on beaches along the Jurassic Coast. Dead seaweed is often automatically viewed as horrid, unsightly, and a nuisance – but if you pause and look, there is beauty in it. There are many types of seaweed to be discovered in the masses on this strandline. Their fronds intertwine in a kind of accidental natural weaving. Each species has its own characteristic shape, texture, and pattern. Their combined presence forms greater abstract designs of infinite variety, the individual fronds making strands or threads as in a tapestry. The puckered patterns of the crinkly Sugar Kelp stand out as the most decorative features of the assemblage. The colours change from deep olive brown to golden yellow and cream as the algae decompose. The textures range from leathery to satiny, from slimy to crispy depending on moisture content. Opaque and hardening on exposure to air; or translucent and soft when floating in shallow water rock pools.

Sea Belt Seaweed or Poor Man’s Weatherglass

Close-up image of shiny natural pattern and texture on Sea Belt Seaweed - Laminaria saccharina

For more information about Sea Belt or Poor Man’s Weatherglass seaweed – Laminaria saccharina (Linnaeus) Lamouroux – see the earlier Postings about this species on Jessica’s Nature Blog.

Sea Belt seaweed, Laminaria saccharina, washed up on a pebble beach

Sea Belt seaweed, Laminaria saccharina, washed up on a pebble beach

Sea Belt seaweed, Laminaria saccharina, washed up on a pebble beach

Close-up image of shiny natural pattern and texture on Sea Belt Seaweed - Laminaria saccharina

Close-up image of shiny natural pattern and texture on Sea Belt Seaweed - Laminaria saccharina

Close-up image of shiny natural pattern and texture on Sea Belt Seaweed - Laminaria saccharina

Close-up image of shiny natural pattern and texture on Sea Belt Seaweed - Laminaria saccharina

Close-up image of shiny natural pattern and texture on Sea Belt Seaweed - Laminaria saccharina

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Tangled Thongweed

Thongweed knot: A naturally-formed knot in Thongweed washed up on a shingle beach on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset, UK, (1) 

The narrow centimetre-wide straps of Thongweed, Himanthalia elongata (L.) Gray, over two metres in length, are shed from the basal disc of this species of seaweed when the reproductive products are ripe. Vast quantities of these seaweed tapes are washed onto Jurassic Coast seashores. They are often turned and tossed by the waves – rolled around until they become tangled and knotted. The photographs show a selection of the naturally-occurring knots, skeins, patterns, and arrangements of this olive-green seaweed. These accumulations of weed were found on the pebbles, stones and gravels of shingle beaches in Dorset. 

Coiled strands of seaweed on the beach: A coiled skein of Thongweed washed ashore on a shingle beach on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset, UK (2) 

Natural knot in flotsam seaweed on the seashore: A natural knot arrangement of Thongweed washed onto a Jurassic Coast shingle beach, Dorset, UK (3) 

Himanthalia elongata fertile straps washed ashore: A loosely wound bundle of Thongweed washed up on a shingle beach, Jurassic Coast, Dorset, UK (4) 

Knotted Thongweed in a pile of seaweed washed onto a Jurassic Coast shingle beach, Dorset, UK (5) 

Common british seaweed (Thongweed) washing up on shingle: A sinuous roll of tangled, cast straps of Thongweed, being washed ashore onto a shingle beach along the Jurassic Coast, Dorset, UK (6) 

Revision of a post first published 4 November 2009 as Natural arrangements of Thongweed on shingle

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

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Floating Japweed at Ringstead Bay

Japweed floating in the sea: Japweed floating in calm shallow water on a hot summer's day near the shore and cliffs at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (1) 

Looking like a wonderful blue carpet with a golden fern pattern, Japweed Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, was particularly decorative at Ringstead Bay in Dorset one hot July day. Here are some photographs of this alien species of seaweed floating near the surface in still, shallow water near the beach. The yellow-green fronds contrast well with the deep reflected blue from the cloudless sky above. Sometimes other types of red and green algae can be seen through the clear water on the seabed below; and brown fucoids are visible in above the water surface on the rocky platform just offshore. 

You can see more pictures of Japweed from along the Jurassic Coast in the earlier posts:

Japweed at Chapmans Pool

Japweed from Studland Bay 

Japweed (Sargassum muticum) floating in calm shallow water near the shore at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast - on a hot summer's day (2) 

Japweed at Ringstead Bay: Fern-like fronds of Japweed (a seaweed species accidentally  introduced to Britain) floating at the surface in calm shallow water near the rocky shore at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast - on a hot summer's day (3) 

Revision of a post first published 5 December 2009

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Japweed at Chapmans Pool

Japweed at Chapmans Pool: Fronds of Japweed, Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, washed up on a rock platform at Chapmans Pool, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (1) 

Individual feathery fronds of Japweed can look very decorative when washed ashore and displayed against the natural sediments of the beach. Here this seaweed is shown naturally spread out by the ebbing tide on a flat rock platform at Chapmans Pool. It has a very characteristic appearance and on this occasion the alga is a lovely golden green colour. However, en masse this alien species, Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, can constitute a great menace to the environment – as I have detailed in earlier posts.

Frond of Japweed, Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, washed up on rocks at Chapmans Pool, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast. 

The odd specimen of Japweed ends up artfully arranged by accident among the boulders.

Japweed growing in the sea at Chapmans Pool: Brown patches beneath the surface of the water showing growing beds of Japweed and Thongweed at Chapmans Pool, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (3)

The extensive beds of growing weed are in deeper water of the lower shore. It was not possible to tell which part of this floating brown mass was Japweed and which was Thongweed on my visit as I could not wade out to look (the rock platform is very slippery) but their position is easy to see from afar.

Fronds of Japweed, Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, and other seaweeds washed up on the beach at Chapmans Pool, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (4) 

Much of the time, the Japweed is stranded in clumps inter-mixed with other algal types – as shown in the picture below where a bundle of Japweed, Thongweed, Bladder Wrack and assorted red seaweeds lay on the mixed substrate shore of fine gravel, pebbles, and stones on the eastern edge of Chapmans Pool.

Japweed (an accidentally introduced alien seaweed species) washed ashore on the rock platform at Chapmans Pool, Dorset, UK, on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site (5) 

 Revision of a post first published 3 July 2009

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