Isles of Scilly seaweed 'still thriving'

Thong weed. Pic: Lisa Chilton
Image caption The islands are home to hundreds of species of seaweed

Seaweed is still thriving around the Isles of Scilly but there has also been an increase in alien species from the Pacific Ocean, a scientist says.

Prof Juliet Brodie, from the Natural History Museum, has been surveying the islands, where there are about 30% of the 600 species native to UK waters.

She said initial findings showed that seaweed flora appeared to be generally similar to the last study in 1983.

But she added some alien species not found then were now well-established.

DNA profiles

The week-long survey was part of the Isles of Scilly Marine Biodiversity Project, which the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust has been running for two years.

Prof Brodie - who also carried out the 1983 survey - worked with a team of volunteers, including members of the trust.

She said the aim was to look at whether the seaweed flora was much the same as in 1983.

The initial findings showed that, despite concerns about climate change and other environmental threats, at least as many species were still present.

However, she added that species including wire weed and devil's tongue weed, both conspicuous and invasive alien species from the Pacific, were also well-established.

The survey team also sampled and pressed hundreds of seaweed samples.

The samples are to be used by the Natural History Museum to create DNA profiles, the trust said.

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