Oct. 26, 2011

A Whole New Take on Seaweeds

by Coastal Studies for Girls

By Cori, Coastal Studies for Girls

Last week in Marine Science we started studying ecological interactions by focusing on seaweed. We had a whole assortment of red, green, and brown seaweeds collected from various locations. We separated them into their groups and started to identify them. Armed with our guides, we battled each seaweed one by one. In our specimens we found some intruders, such as a small lumpfish and some skeleton shrimp -- both of which we examined as well.

We found eleven different species of seaweed, and as we identified each one we also wrote up an interesting fact. They were definitely cool! Some of the species we were very familiar with such as sea lettuce, spiraled wrack, and knotted wrack. But many others we had not seen very often and we were not as familiar with them. These included: sugar kelp, wrack fringe tube weed, bladder wrack, tufted fringe, dulse, flat rock weed, Irish moss, and hollow green weed.

We also learned many cool facts about everything -- how long knotted wrack lives, that you can see your fingerprints through sea lettuce, that the color of the glands of bladder wrack varies depending on the sex. The most entertaining facts we discovered were all the foods that include extracts from sugar kelp and dulse, including pizza dough, soups, ice cream, candies, and pudding. Our first thought about that was, “Why would anyone eat seaweed?”

Our question was soon answered as we were led into the dining room to try an assortment of seaweeds. From Maine, we had edible kelp (Alaria esculenta), kelp (Laminaria longicruris), Laver (Porphyra umbilicalus), and dulse (Palmaria palmata). And we had Nori (Porphyra yezoensis) with teriyaki from Japan, just to try something new. Many people were reluctant to try them, but in the end everyone had a little bit. The group was divided on whether they liked it or not, some people eating as much as they could, and others opting for bananas and apples.

Either way, we learned a ton about seaweeds and how to identify them. Who would have known that something that you see every time you go to the beach could be so fascinating?

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls. CSG is dedicated to girls who have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge themselves.

About Coastal Studies for Girls

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls.

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