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This slideshow features illustrations of some of the plants and animals that William Dampier, a naturalist and pirate, observed in Australia (then known as New Holland) and New Guinea. Learn more about Dampier in...
Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—...
Algae, like all organisms, normally grow in balance with their ecosystems,...
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One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic...

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Many species of pink coralline algae cover a reef surface in the Southern Line Islands. Often unnoticed, these pink algae crusts help to cement coral reefs together, providing extra support and habitat for animals that live on...
Sargassum fluitans , a.k.a. “Gulfweed,” forms dense clumps up to the size of...
A strain of this green seaweed, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans,...

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Seagrasses are found in shallow salty and brackish waters in many parts of the world, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle...
An invasive strain of the plant Phragmites australis dominates this Chesapeake Bay wetland. The plant can easily grow up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) tall and alter coastal ecosystems. Scientists at the...
As Dampier studied the plants he encountered in Australia, he wrote that they were “for the most part unlike any I had seen elsewhere.” In fact, nearly all the plants Dampier observed were entirely...
Bacteria are everywhere in the ocean. They live in the water, on virtually every living and non-living surface, and even inside other organisms . There are 1 million bacterial cells in every...
California is known for it’s lovely beaches, good food, and sloping hills. But take a dive into the colder waters, and discover a new type of wonder: the California kelp forest. The kelp forests are...
“Sea grapes” may sound like something Poseidon would snack on, and not a killer algae. Yet Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea poses a serious threat to marine life. Spread by the bilge water of boats...
Algae has overtaken this coral reef off heavily populated Kiritimati, or Christmas Island. Few fish swim in the murky waters. The causes include pollution, overfishing, and increased water...
For more than two centuries, Boston Harbor has been a dumping ground. In 1773, colonists famously dumped shiploads of tea to protest taxes. But in recent decades, the harbor has received less tea and...
Squids, octopuses and cuttlefish, such as this Australian Giant Cuttlefish ( Sepia apama ), compose just one group of animals that call seagrass beds home. Clams and worms bury themselves in the mud...
The bright, brilliant swirls of blue and green seen from space are a phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea. Phytoplankton can bloom like this, rapidly growing and reproducing, because of a sudden...
One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic algae can grow rapidly to form harmful algal blooms (sometimes called "red tides"), which create unhealthy water conditions...
Macroscopic algae ( Ventricaria ventricosa ), also known as "bubble algae" or "sea pearl," is widespread algal species that can withstand low light. Each of the bubbles is a single cell, making it...
Slip into the water along a sheltered coast in nearly any part of the world and you’re likely to find yourself in an emerald field of seagrass . Like flowering plants on land, seagrasses grow, flower...
Bull kelp ( Nereocystis ) becomes less valuable to grazers as it quickly rots.
Sargassum fluitans , a.k.a. “Gulfweed,” forms dense clumps up to the size of a beach ball that slowly rotate as they drift. The fronds are quite dense, but if you look carefully, sometimes you can...
Nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that could provide the key to our understanding of one of the biggest threats to coral reef survival: Ocean Acidification...
Macroscopic Algae ( Acetabularia crenulata ). More about mangrove ecosystems can be found in the Mangroves section .
Stare at a tide pool and you will often see a crust of pink coating the bottom. No, this is not bubblegum from some careless teenager’s shoe: it’s a stony kind of seaweed that, like other seaweeds,...
The open ocean is surprisingly barren to the naked eye. Every now and again you will encounter a school of fish and their attendant predators, but most of the life that you find is gathered around...
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