These drawings are reprinted here with the permission of Gloria Snively from her classic book Exploring The Seashore in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. A Guide to Shorebirds and Intertidal Plants and Animals. Gordon Soules Book Publishers Ltd. 1997, 1978
"From the kelp forest to you"
British Columbia's outer coast has over 700 species of Seaweed.
Here is a self-guided tour of just a few of the more recognizable ones.
Alaria - Winged Kelp
Alaria is an olive-brown seaweed kelp found in the lower tidal zone on moderate to very rocky shores can grow two to three metres (six to ten feet). Its large frond or blade has a distinctive flattened mid-rib. It contains the B complex vitamins, vitamin C and many other elements.
Egregia - Feather Boa
This attractive olive brown seaweed kelp is fringed with rich chocolate brown blades. It can reach five metres in length and can be found on moderate shores in the lower to mid-tidal zones.
Laminaria - Japanese Kombu
This rich olive brown seaweed kelp is usually attached to rocks in moderate to sheltered waters between lower and subtidal regions. Its texture can vary from thin and flexible to thick and leathery. It also contains alginic acid, laminaran, mannitol, protein, carotine, niacin, phosphorus, the B complex vitamins, vitamin C and many other elements.
It plays a strong role in Japanese culture as a royal delicacy and they attribute a number of healing virtues especially in treating thyroid disease and lowering blood pressure.
Japanese folk medicine recommends bathing with kombu strips to ease nervous disorders.
Nerocystis - Bull Kelp
This is the Seaweed most often recognized when foraging on the coast. These classic brown Seaweeds form the massive 'forest and canopy' located just offshore.
Bull kelp is whip-like with long thin hollow stalk leading to a floating bulb, with several long thin blades arising from the bulb. It can grow an impressive 20 metres in only one season.
High in vitamins & minerals, particularly potassium, protein & free amino acids.
This olive -green Seaweed with its yellowish tips is usually found in the middle of the inter-tidal and high tide zone. It arises from a disc-shaped holdfast on the rocks of both coasts of North America and in Europe and the UK. This Seaweed grows in bushy clumps, hanging down across the rocks like curtains. It is a versatile medicinal herb from the ocean.
Palmaria - palmata dulse
While dulse has long been enjoyed by East Coast residents, on our coast it is less accessible. It has a delicious fresh crisp flavour.
Dulse is reported to have the highest content of iron of any food source, and is high in potassium, magnesium, protein and vitamin A.
Ulva lactuca - Sea Lettuce
This bright green, tissue-like Seaweed resembles leaf lettuce. Sea lettuce can usually be found in the high tide zone. At low tide, when dried in the sun, this Seaweed looks and feels like tissue paper. It has a fresh crisp taste and has natural astringent properties.
Porphya - Japanese Nori
There are several varieties on the outer coast of this beautiful ruffled Seaweed, that may range in colour from olive-green to rose-pink to purple. It is thin and elastic like latex and its oily iridescence reflects the colours of the rainbow.
This is a popular Seaweed for eating, both historically and today. Eaten by indigenous peoples, it has a sweet, meaty flavour pleasant to most palates. Porphyra is high in protein, contains carbohydrates and almost no fat. It is rich in vitamins A, B2, niacin, B12, plus C and D.
Iridaea Cordata - Rainbow Seaweed
Its broad, smooth blades are dark bluish, purple and iridescent in colour. It is found in the lower rocky inter-tidal zone and upper sub-tidal zones. Its beautiful colouring easily explains its local name of 'Rainbow Seaweed' .