The first thing you can see when exploring a rock pool will be the seaweed. Seaweed, like all plants, needs sunlight to photosynthesise and grow, so grows closer to the surface of the rockpools or anywhere where there is enough light to support the plant. There are many different types of seaweed we can identify in Portrush rock pools.
Purple Laver is easy to identify due to its purple colour and broad fronds. Sea Lettuce looks rather like the leaves of lettuce- a green colour with crumpled fronds.
Oarweed is a golden-brown, glossy type of kelp which is much bigger, growing up to two metres in length, and identified by the thick stem which splays into distinctive ‘.
Bladderwrack is more commonly known as ‘mermaid’s purse’ due to its air bladders which are found along the fronds. If you pop one, you can hear the hiss of the air escaping. These are useful adaptations as they allow the plant to float closer to the surface of the water and get more sunlight for photosynthesis.
Pepper Dulse is a small red or brown seaweed shaped like a fern with many little ‘leaves’. It is most well-known as giving its name to the dried-seaweed snack of ‘dulse’ which was very popular in the past and is still sold in tourist shops in Portrush.
Sugar Kelp is a golden-brown strap-like seaweed with frilly fronds which can also be used as a sugar substitute.
Gut Weed is the type of seaweed which gets caught between your toes if you go paddling and is visible as a green, grass-like seaweed which can grow on rocks, sand or mud at any level of the shore which has enough light.