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Algae, Pacific Northwest

Brown Algae, BC Coastal Region.
Bull Kelp, Brown Algae, Photo By Bud Logan

Algae belong to a large group of primitive aquatic organisms. Most of them are autotrophic and are able to carry out photosynthesis. Just like the land plants, they contain chlorophyll, but they do not possess roots or leaves, in the way land plants do.

Some types are able to derive energy from both photosynthesis and from external sources. These carry out photosynthesis but also take up organic matter by osmosis to derive energy, and a few types completely rely on external energy sources for its energy.

There are several types of algae, blue green, red, green and brown. With the green algae being the largest group. It grows everywhere. There are more than 20,000 known varieties of algae. Most are mainly occupy marine environments, both fresh and salt.

Bull Kelp, BC Coastal Region
Bull Kelp, Brown Algae, Photo By Bud Logan

They produce oxygen, 87% of the oxygen we breath. They are important to humans not just for its ability to produce oxygen, but also as food and medicine. There are many medical uses for algae.

They are also used in many sewer treatment facilities. Some can be used to treat both municipal and industrial wastewater. Some types play a major role in aerobic treatment of waste in the secondary treatment process. Algae based municipal wastewater treatment systems are mainly used for nutrient removal (removal of nitrogen and phosphorous). It has the ability to accumulate the heavy metals and thereby remove toxic compounds from the wastewater. In some cases, they also play a role in the removal of pathogens in the tertiary treatment stage.

When it is grown in sunlight it can absorb carbon dioxide as it grows, it will convert the carbon dioxide into oxygen for the rest of us to breathe. This could be used to reduce co2 emissions from sources such as power plants, ethanol facilities, and other sources. Algae like the coraline algae, are important members of coral reefs. Red types are unusual among them because they can produce calcium carbonate which makes the plants walls hard and resistant to wear.

Brown kinds are found mainly in the tidal zones, but some exist in the deep ocean. Among the brown algae are the largest and most complex of them, they include the giant kelps we see growing on the coastal waters. They can be more than 70 meters long and are a major food source for many types of fishes.

Wireweed, BC Coastal Region
Wireweed, Brown Algae, Photo By Bud Logan

The oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and the algae produce up to 87% of the world’s oxygen. They also help remove huge amounts of Carbon Dioxide. We need to really look after our oceans, remember this – we kill the ocean, we will kill the world.

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