The return of the algae
Since going out on-site in both the UK and France, we are noticing that the weed is returning a little later than usual. This has helped with our planning for the mechanical removal of the mats in the four sites (two in the UK, two in France). Our hope is that we will be starting this part of the project in July.
These algae deposits mainly consist of the species, Ulva spp. (in filamentous or blade form), the biomass of which increases from early spring through to late summer. There are several causes to these algal blooms, however they are mainly caused by anthropogenic inputs: agricultural run-off, industrial and sewage effluent and increases in sea temperate.
We are interested to see if the mechanical removal will allow for a long term improvement to the local environment, a change to the macrofaunal communities and a potential increase in the number of birds using the mudflats as a feeding ground with less obstructions to their activities. Potentially also improving the publics perception and enjoyment of these coastal environments.
Not wanting to waste the algae that is removed we also hope to look at the potential of converting these green algal mats once cleared, into animal feed, thereby, ensuring their is minimal waste.
Annesia, from Bournemouth University, found a company who specialise in genetic seaweed analysis. Samples from our seasonal field work are washed, cleaned, freeze dried and then sent to them for analysis. So far we have found that the majority of the mats in the spring samples were filamentous green algae from the Chaetomorpha genus: Chaetomorpha Linum and Chaetomorpha Ligustica.