Brown seaweeds are either microscopic like atoms , or huge like giant kelps, which grow at lengths of 50 meters or more. Most of these prefer living in cold water so that they can grow extremely large. There are many variations of these brown seaweeds. Ranging from the Focus or Rockweed, to the Macrocytis, the Laminaria, and the Nereocytis. Dinoflagellates are single-cell organisms which form "red seas" and can secrete poisons. Some of these poisons, which are 100,000 times stronger than cocaine for example, attack the human nervous system and can destroy it. These brown seaweeds are quite interesting to look at. Most have small air bladders along their fronds, with the exception of the Laminaria. The fronds long stems called the stipes, and leaf-like blades, are what the plant uses to absorb nutrients from the seawater and carry out photosynthesis. They resemble that of a stem and leaf of the typical land plant. These fronds themselves extend from the holdfasts, which are rootlike devices used for attachment to the rocks. These seaweeds are held up while living at the bottom of the ocean by tiny gas-filled bladders or swellings which are found in the fronds. They act as floating devices to keep the plants closer to the surface, allowing for maximum light exposure. This allows for the process of photosynthesis to occur more easily . A process which is vital to our lives also. In our region of the world, one of the most familiar seaweed's is the Macrocytis, also known as the Giant Kelp. These Giant Kelp which can be found off the coast of California, have tough, leathery root-like branches, and can grow to be more than 150 feet (35 meters) long! The majority of seaweeds are perennial and live more than two years. The claim to fame which these particular seaweeds possess is that its the longest alga in the world (200 ft.)! This seaweed grows over 17 inches per day, and can actually double their weight in five to ten days! "Recent research shows that seaweeds produce more vegetation per year than alfalfa fields and tropical rainforests." The kelp forests off our coasts today sprawl with such seaweed. Spanning over 44,000 acres of ocean floor they support more than 800 species of marine life (Tennesen, 1992). Some of the creatures that live under the canopy of brown seaweed includes barnacles, blue mussels, and starfish. These grazers have been found in seaweed beds in numbers close to 600 per square yard.
When harvesting these brown "Giants", a gummy substance known as alginates and algin (or fucin) are extracted. As a result of extracting alginates or algin, many uses have been developed. To name a few such uses, they include dairy products, adhesives, textile products, rubber, pharmaceutical products, paper products, and some other miscellaneous products as well. This brown seaweed has been a part of human life for past centuries, and will continue for centuries to come. With it humans have developed unique purposes for such strange plant life. "During World War II, the Hercules Powder Company near San Diego extracted potash and acetone from Kelp to manufacture gunpowder" (Tennesen, 1992). With seaweed, playing such an important role in the production of these items in todays economy, what other source's would we turn to if we were to not have such readily available "green slimy stuff" at our fingertips ?
One of the most diverse groups today is the Red Seaweed. They are also some of the most beautiful! Examples of these include the Rhodophyta (red algae), the Porphyra, the Gracillaria, and the Chondrus Crispus of Irish Moss. This fan-like Irish moss is one of the most common of the red seaweed species. It forms a dense mat which provides protection to small sea creatures and other seaweeds from the strong waves. The green sea urchins depend on Irish Moss for a source of food, while sea gulls, codfish, and lobsters feed on such urchins (Dybas, 1995).
The Chondrus crispus, a marine species of Rhodephyta, is one of the most widely used and eaten seaweeds. Yet, there are few people that actually know the natural appearance of this special seaweed. "Although human diets rarely include C. crispus in its natural form, in other countries this fresh seaweed is still collected and home-processed for use as a thickener in porridge and desserts" (Lobban and Wynne, 1981).
Green seaweeds are very similar in color to the stems of flowering plants. Some, like the bright green sea lettuce, quickly overgrowing rocks and crowd out other species. Sea lettuce also grows at the high-tide line on pilings, and buoys. It may even be found anchored to pebbles and shells on sandy beaches.
- 1.Seaweed and its Valuable Use.Seaweed Laver Extract.
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