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The Seashore

Gutweed (Enteromorpha spp)

Gutweed (Enteromorpha spp)

This is a long, green and tubular alga. The tubes are flattened and crinkled. They can often fill a rock pool in the splash zone and upper shore.

Living all over the seashore it needs to be very tolerant of environment changes e.g. salinity and temperature. It often grows where freshwater runs across shore and is a good indicator of this condition. At low temperatures of -21°C, it still functions although the optimum is l7°C. It is an early coloniser of bare rock and is quick to recolonise after grazing by periwinkles and limpets. It has a very rapid growth rate. Once developed Enteromorpha will form a second community. Although common in rock pools, Enteromorpha can survive out on the rocks near the top of the shore as it rehydrates rapidly when immersed. The alga starts life as two sheets of cells which fuse to form a tube. This inflates with oxygen as it photosynthesises to keep it floating at the surface.

This bright green seaweed is very abundant where freshwater is present on the shore. It can be found usually in shallow pools of the upper shore and splash zone of rocky seashores where a stream runs down the cliff. In estuaries and mudflats it can cover the upper shore in a "green meadow". Throughout suitable habitats in Europe.

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