The Seaweed Hunt

Seaweed Hunt, North Uist Outer Hebrides
Seaweed Hunt, North Uist Outer Hebrides

When I’m not gardening or trying to encourage others to garden I’m usually involved in cajoling members of the local natural history society (Curracag), friends, islanders, tourists or anyone who’ll listen to get out and about and discover the natural wonders of our beautiful islands. Once enchanted and ensnared they lured into the delights of recording what they see helping us to document our wildlife so that it can be preserved for future generations (Outer Hebrides Biological Recording Project). After all if you don’t know what you’ve got you don’t know what you’re about to lose.
Almost everyone can be persuaded to take a walk along the beach and indulge in a little beach combing, it has to be the ideal family outing. So what could be better than a seaweed hunt? The Natural History Museum has been running a seaweed recording project since 2009 to map the distribution of 12 key kinds of seaweed that can be found around the UK coast and to track how their distributions are changing.  Climate change has an effect on water conditions and sea levels, which may affect seaweeds as well as many other organisms.
This is an ideal project for encouraging everyone to have a closer look at the life on our seashores. The survey is easy to carry out and there is an information sheet and photographs which you can download from their website to help you identify the seaweeds included in the survey (Natural History Museum Big Seaweed Search).

Seaweed Hunt - looking at seaweeds
So what do you think it is? Bladder wrack or spiral wrack?

We all had a fantastic time and found rather more than we had expected, not just seaweeds – sponges, shore crabs, a mermaid’s purse, winkles and whelks. Some of us also became enthused and have spent countless hours dabbling around in rock pools and discovering a whole new hidden world.
So why not take a trip to the seaside and have a go – you can even do it in the rain!

6 thoughts on “The Seaweed Hunt

  1. Your post brings back fond memories – when I was a teen, we lived on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. I spent hours and hours beachcombing the sandy shores and exploring the rocky promontories with their tide pools. Living in the middle of North America now, it’s rare that I get a chance to walk along a sea shore, but it’s still one of my all-time favorite activities. Good luck with your biological survey project!

    • Thank you – a trip to the coast is always special, particularly for those who are landlocked.

  2. I often wonder what it would be like to live near the sea. Would I go for walks on the beach every morning, regardless of sunshine or rain?
    Still enjoy messing around in rock pools, guess it’s one of those things you never grow out of.

    • When we first moved here I walked the beach twice a day without fail come hell or high water, then life took over and I had yo moderate my addiction. Recently I’ve started to feel guilty about my neglect so I’m spending more time pootling round on the shore.

  3. That is a really interesting idea – but I’ve not even been able to do my Plantlife survey yet (rain, rain, go away), so I’d better not take on anything else.
    Plus, I’m terribly ignorant about seaweeds – which is a shame, as one of my earliest memories is helping my parents prepare seaweed samples for pressing… messy. Or it is if you involve a four year old.

    • How perceptive – you’ve caught us at the lovely occupation of pressing seaweeds – not just messy for children! My kitchen now looks like a marine aquarium and smells like one too at times! The good thing about shore dabbling is that you can do it in the rain but it helps if the beach is at the bottom of the garden.

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