Kelp and algae are like the trees and shrubs of the aquatic world except for one important factor, THEY’RE NOT PLANTS! Kelp is in fact in the Kingdom Protista meaning that among other things it does not use roots to absorb nutrients nor does it have a vascular system to transport those nutrients to its various structures. The part of kelp most similar in appearance and location to the roots of plants is called the holdfast. This spaghetti like structure has a primary function of securing the organism to the sea floor; holding it “fast” in all but the most turbulent conditions.
Because of the way kelp holdfasts are tangled and tasseled, they make the perfect protected place for young ocean animals to get their start in the world. If you were to find an uprooted holdfast floating at sea or on the beach you would be likely to spot more than a few species of animals. Everything from brittle stars to isopods to tube worms, tiny sea hares, kelp crabs and baby octopus can be found in these miniature nurseries. Scientists believe you could find over one hundred species in a single holdfast!
Some holdfasts like those of the giant brown kelp are expansive and winding while others, like that of the sea palm, are more puck-like and perfectly adapted to cement firmly onto rocks and other hard substrate. This tight grip allows kelp to stay stationary for a long time. While the blades of kelp only live about a month or two, holdfasts can live and grow for up to ten years or more!
Lichen is the combination of fungi, algae and even bacteria through a symbiotic relationship. It is one of the few organisms we know about that draws upon and spans across multiple kingdoms! Lichen are known as pioneer species: a species that will colonize new ecological systems. An example of this is our own Catalina Island! When Catalina rose from the ocean through the collision of tectonic plates, Catalina was mainly rock, inhabitable by most plants and animals. Through wind and bird dispersion, lichen was brought to Catalina. The lichen is capable of being a pioneer species because it decomposes rocks for their main source of energy. When lichen breaks down rock it slowly will become soil and thus a potential source for new plants and life. However this process is not quick, it is estimated that it takes about 10,000 years to make 1 inch of soil! Lichen is also an extremely slow grower, most lichen only will grow about a millimeter every year.
Here at CIMI lichen covers almost every rock face we have spanning from the beach to the top of our canyon. CIMI, Toyon Bay, instructor Kenny is seen in our video talking about lichen while sporting an old pioneer’s hat. He encourages you to next time stop and appreciate our mostly unnoticeable friends next time you hike! We’re lik’n lichen!
DIY Algae presses are a fun way for students to take a little piece of CIMI home with them. After learning about the three different types of algae (Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta, and Rhodophyta), each student has an opportunity to design their very own algae art piece. Now if you’re trying to do this at home, you may not have easy access to tons of algae, like us, so feel free to go find some plants or flowers in your neighborhood to use.
Things you’ll need:
Something to press, like flowers or leaves (stay away from anything with a large stem, as it won’t press very flat)
A piece of cardstock or thick paper cut to about 6 by 9 inches
Some wax paper or parchment paper
Cardboard cut into small 6 by 9 inch sections or so
A few heavy books
Two weeks of patience
To start, gather all your plants and decide upon a design that you want to create.
Take your piece of cardstock and carefully place your plants down in the shape you picked out. Try not to overlap pieces of plants, instead try to keep just one plant layer all over your paper.
Do not use glue to stick the plants down; they will change shape and size as they dry.
Once you have positioned your plants as you like, place a sheet of wax paper on top of your creation. This will keep the plants from sticking to the cardboard as they dry.
When you are ready, place the cardstock and wax paper in between two piece of cardboard. Basically making a sandwich.
Then use 4-5 rubber bands in both directions to hold your project together.
Find a few heavy books and place your project in a cool dry place for about 2 weeks.
If you check your press after two weeks and its not completely dry, leave it there for another week.
Once everything is dry you can remove your press from the cardboard and wax paper. If the plants aren’t staying in place, feel free to glue them or get your press laminated, this will protect it from general wear and tear.
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Sea Camp is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at minimum a Bachelors Degree in Marine Science or related subject. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.catalinaseacamp.org for additional information. Happy Reading!