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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Is it a record?

Several days ago, I came across an interesting Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) specimen washed up on the beach.  Instead of being narrow and ribbon-like, the blades were broad, even approaching oval:

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might recall that I showed a very broad-bladed Bull Kelp a couple of years agosee "Seaweed puzzler" from 12 April 2015.  That blade was ~16 cm across.  I compared that to the description in the Marine Algae of California, which stated that the blades could reach up to 15 cm across.

Well, when I saw this specimen, I wondered if it was even broader.  Sure enough, I measured it with the ruler along the edge of my notebook and estimated it was ~22 cm wide.  

At the time I couldn't remember how wide the 2015 specimen had been.  When I reviewed it, I started to wonder if I had measured incorrectly in the field.  Could this specimen really be 6 cm wider than the previous one?

I'm glad I took a picture with my notebook next to the blade.  To get a second opinion using the photo, I asked Eric to calculate the width of the blade based on the width of my notebook.  He came up with 22.65 cm! 

So is this a record-wide Bull Kelp blade?  Has anyone found a Bull Kelp specimen with blades wider than 22 cm?

Keep your eyes open!


Matt Robart said...

That's fascinating -- lots of epiphytes too. I wonder if those were all growing in-situ or if they recruited to the Nereo once it was already adrift. I can only imagine that it was in a very protected cove to take on that growth form.

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Matt! Nice to hear from you! Yeah, I wondered if it had been growing in either a very calm place, or a very dark place. I've also wondered if the blades would grow like that if it had been drifting offshore for a while, but then a few people I've talked with weren't certain if Bull Kelp grows after it's detached. If anyone knows the answer, I'd be interested.

:) Jackie