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Spring Seaweeds at Swanage

April 18, 2011

Twenty three volunteers joined Kathryn and I for our Welly Zone seaweed identification training day at Swanage on Saturday. The sun shone as we delivered our introduction to seaweeds talk and headed along to Peveril Point and the beach.

The green, brown and red seaweeds all looked very colourful, not yet having been bleached by the summer sun. The purple laver of winter is on its last legs now, as the spring sunshine burns it off the rocks, while oyster thief and bean weed are reaching their peak. They too will disappear by mid-summer, just as our spring flowers do.

One of the most obvious species was Thongweed with its leathery ‘buttons’ and long ‘spaghetti’ straps (the reproductive part), draped over the rocks where they had been left by the retreating tide.  A less obvious alga was Codium adhaerens, a real rarity known at only 3 sites in Dorset.

Golden spaghetti-like straps of thongweed mixed in with the chestnut-coloured kelp

The Welly Zone volunteers can now tell the difference between serrated wrack and bladder wrack and between dulse and pepper dulse. They know a holdfast from a stipe, why a red seaweed can be yellow and what to look for when identifying a species.

Checking the ID guide

Our next Welly Zone event is in Weymouth where we will launch a new volunteer group for Weymouth & Portland and unveil our new Wildlife on Your Seashore ID pack before heading out to explore the shore.  If you would like to join our Welly Zone volunteers, wherever you live in Dorset, please contact Julie at 

For seashore events go to

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