Seaweeds in central California are considered among the most studied plants in the world. Approximately 500 types of seaweeds occur in the shallow waters (less than 100 ft.) of Monterey Bay.
There has been little exploration, however, of seaweeds below 100 ft. Difficulty studying deep waters with traditional SCUBA techniques and almost perpetual darkness has limited sampling and discovery in this twilight zone.
The discovery of these seaweeds which are typically found at shallower depths indicate that deep water is clearer and may play host to many species that are more abundant and diverse than previously thought. MLML scientists have identified 2 new species of seaweed in this study. The presence of very clear water along the Big Sur coast suggests that these communities might be sentinels for changes in water quality.
In addition, this study increases our estimates of coastal production and the communities supported by plant growth. These seaweeds also may serve as habitat for fishes and as an important sources of food for deep-water animals. Studies such as this indicate that there is much more to be explored right in our own backyard.
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is one of the oldest marine laboratories in California. Its faculty, students and staff are engaged in a variety of research projects, both locally and globally. The laboratories are operated by a consortium of seven California State University campuses in Northern and Central California which includes San Jose, San Francisco, Hayward, Stanislaus, Fresno, Sacramento and Monterey Bay.
Source: Moss Landing Marine Laboratories