Don’t underestimate the utilities of algae

A reader recently asked where to find a field guide to seaweed of the northeast Atlantic and also wanted to know in particular “which species is edible, how to prepare it and what historical uses were of specific seaweeds”. I am going to do my best in answering and encourage you all to continually challenge me with questions. Please feel free to comment anywhere or simply email

It seems as though the most thorough resource with the most concise information online for Atlantic  coast species would be from the Field Guide to Algae from Acadia National Park. A much more extensive online reference would be the AlgaeBase (The World of Algae was absorbed into this database) produced be the Irish Seaweed Research Group. And, of course, there seems to be a gaggle of print books out there as well which are always nice to have while beachcombing.

For the second part of the question I am going to take the time to elaborate on my previous post about edible seaweeds found in ice cream. Here are 10 utilities for algae that you may or may not know about. There are plenty more but I have to leave a little something for you to research with the resources I found (also there is a collection of recent news article below).

  1. In general many seaweeds can be used as your garden’s best friend. Check out this great article from Earth Easy on How to Use Seaweed to Mulch Your Garden.
  2. Algae can be used to make a biodiesel.
  3. Blue-green algae are used as a dietary protein, as well as in aiding weight loss, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, among many other others issues (check out the image of the gentleman drinking some below – yum?).
  4. Dulse (Rhodymenia palmata) is a favorite food of those living in Canada, the UK, and northern Europe.
  5. Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) is a food addictive and is the source of carrageenen which thickens and stabilizes foods, including ice cream and beer.
  6. Laminaria seaweeds (also known as Saccharina seaweeds) are thought to stimulate cleansing, reduces water retention, and tone thyroid action.
  7. Nori (Porphyra) is popular in Japanese cuisine and is known for its high nutrient value.
  8. Sargassum seaweeds are thought to disperse accumulated phlegm and water.
  9. Sea lettuces (Ulva) are enjoyed raw in salads and cooked in soups in Scandinavia, the UK, China, and Japan.
  10. Toothed wrack (Fucus serratus) is used as a bath soak in Ireland and is thought to help with arthritis.

If you or anyone you know swears by drinking algae as a supplement please share your experience below. I’d love to read your perspective!

Image (c)

A naturalist’s must-see destination: Acadia National Park

I’ve researched some significant reasons why Acadia National Park is a popular place to go.

  • The center of Acadia National Park is the core wintering area for purple sandpipers.
  • Recently, a fungus lethal to bats – but harmless to humans, was found in Acadia National Park. The animals infected are said to come down with white-nose syndrome. It’s particularly detrimental because bats are crucial to stabilizing the mosquito population.
  • The word ‘Acadia’ is said to be a derivative of the word ‘Arcadia’. Italian explored Giananni de Verazzano used the word ‘Arcadia’ to describe the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The word ‘Acadia’ was used to designate the current area of Canada’s maritime Providences.
  • The park was established as Acadia National Park on January 19, 1929 and is the fifth smallest national park.
  •  In 2010, the Huffington Post named it one of the top 6 national parks to visit.
  • Acadia National Park lies on Mount Desert Island, which is the sixth largest island in the continental United States.
  •  There is a famous rock formation, known as Thunder Hole (pictured), that when hit by waves creates a thunderous roar as air and water shoot out!
  • The movie, Cider House Rules, featured two spots on Mount Desert Island: Sand Beach and Thurston’s Lobster Pound.
  •  The peak of the highest mountain, Cadillac Mountain, in Acadia National Park is the first place to witness the rays of the sun shining on the United States.
  • When writing letters in support of the park, President Woodrow Wilson stated, “It is a true park area in the highest sense, totally different from any other that we have”, “It is rich in historic association, in scientific interest, and in landscape beauty”, “There is no other place along the Atlantic coast where so wide a range of geologic facts are shown or where such valuable material is offered for research”, “It will give a healthy playground to multitudes of hard-working men and women”, and “With its adjacent inlets and headlands, it stands out as offering the greatest natural diversity.”
  • The state motto, Dirigo, is Latin for “I direct” or “I guide”.

In case you cannot tell, I am very excited for the Maine coast vacation next week. Pictures will surely follow!