Following a pattern established a few years back, March is ‘seaweed month’. This month we are highlighting the fluffy red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis (foxtails), which until recently might have gone unnoticed in the marine flora. These days it even features in prime-time television commercials, as it has been discovered that adding even a small amount of Asparagopsis to ruminant stock feed drastically reduces their methane output, a major greenhouse gas. Researchers are now looking at the best way to farm this seaweed, as wild harvesting the required quantities would not be sustainable.
Foxtails is widespread along the WA coast, from the tropics south to at least the Capes region, generally growing on rock in shallow water. It is often seasonal in colder waters, overwintering as the inconspicuous alternate stage of the life cycle, with the conspicuous plants appearing commonly in spring and summer.
Photo: J. Huisman