Peaceful Patterns of Pelvetiopsis and Fucus on a High Reef

A surf swept reef is a boisterous place. Crashing waves elicit profound vigilance and the footing is treacherous. A spill will earn you a painful barnacle inflicted wound. To let your mind wander to the artistic is to risk a tumble or a soaking. Still, it’s possible to find peace in the artful patterns of…

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Variety in the Intertidal Reds

Since I laid my hands on the new edition of Druehl and Clarkston’s Pacific Seaweeds, I’ve spent hours letting it guide me through the diversity of west coast seaweeds. It’s a celebration of morphological variety. Chapters on green, red, and brown seaweeds are organized by morphological theme- crusts, cylinders, simple blades, branched, bushy, feather-like, and…

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Cup and Saucer, Constantinea simplex

Cup and saucer is eye-catching in morning light. Feelings are a rarity in my 1993 edition of Seashore Life, so when Kozloff remarks that C. simplex is “a real oddity,” I take it seriously. If he means singular or whimsical, I agree. There’s never a time I’m not pleased to come across cup and saucer.…

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Red Algae Textures the Mid- and Lower Intertidal

The lower rocky intertidal is all about reds. There, and even higher, they texture rocks and reefs. But on unprotected shores these places are usually soaked by surf. So if you want to go nose to thallus with the best of the reds, it’s only going to happen on the lowest ebbs. This gallery celebrates…

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Bull Kelp, Graceful in the Drift Line

In life, bull kelp is the picture of grace. Its scientific name, Nereocystis luetkeana, is graceful too. What about after bull kelp’s short life ends, does it retain its grace? Every fall, storms dislodge bull kelp from its rocky anchors. Once adrift, some are tossed ashore where we can answer the question without getting wet.…

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Stranded Greenling Raises Eternal Question: To Assist or Not Assist?

Last week, thanks to a good low tide, I got to explore a stand of Ahnfeltiopsis. The surf was bigger than I wished, but the grove was upon me, and my attention was on the sand-loving red algae people call forked seaweed. While I was solving seaweeds, the swash left a 75 mm prize flopping…

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Spongy Cushion, Codium setchellii

Every time I come across a patch of Codium setchellii I have to pause and take a closer look. The marvelous convolutions of greenish-black spongy cushion evoke feelings like no other algae. It’s a visceral thing – hard to explain. I haven’t discussed it with anyone, but I know I’m not the only one who…

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Common Marine Algae in the Northern Oregon Drift Line: A Gallery of Images

My post about bull kelp drift masses, back in early December, got me thinking about other algae people might find washed up in the drift line. On my home beaches, bull kelp is certainly the most noticeable. Small clumps of rockweed are abundant, and sea palms, when present, are hard to miss. Fresh giant kelp…

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Bull Kelp Drift: A Subtidal-to-Surf Zone Connection

What do you call a tangled mass of bull kelp on the beach? I’m not sure what you call a great spaghetti-like tangle of floats, stipes, and holdfasts, but after a long summer, masses and clumps of kelp wash onto the beach with the first big surf of the fall season. This clump was 112…

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