Somerset seaweeds

The UK Somerset coastline extends along the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel. The region has the second highest tidal range in the world and high silt-loading. Despite the high level of conservation sites in the area, very few detailed seaweed studies exist.

The recent resurgence of interest in a tidal barrage across the Severn and proposals for Marine Protected Area status prompted us to embark on a survey of the seaweeds of Somerset.

Project aims:

  • To provide a baseline specimen-based record of the seaweeds of this area
  • To compare this record with earlier studies, notably one undertaken in the 1970s

Findings to date:

We have recorded over 12% of the UK seaweed flora in the few sites studied so far, which demonstrates the previously unrealised high macroalgal biodiversity in the Severn Estuary and inner Bristol Channel area.

Notable species that we have found include:

  • Derbesia tenuissima - a rare green algae
  • Syncoryne reinkei - another rare green algae
  • Corallina caespitose - the newly described species of red coralline algae

All three species are new records for Somerset.

Staff linked to this project:
  • J Brodie
  • L Irvine

For more on this project, see the video on Nature Online:

Somerset seaweeds video