Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Gracilariopsis lemanaeformis

You've heard the racy rumors about this spaghetti-like algal beauty, but what is the truth behind this wondrous weed. Truth be told, behind Gracilariopsis' glorious, easy-go-lucky exterior lies a tortured, struggling soul. "How hard can it be to be an algae?" you say?

Well, first off, the word 'algae' for those in the know is used only for a number of weeds. (One alga, three thousand six hundred and twelve algae) You wouldn't say: "How hard can it be to be a penguins?" would you?

Let me just tell you that it's plenty hard. Imagine waking up one fine morning to find that you can't move at all. While you were sleeping somebody filled your bed, your bedroom and your whole block with sand. No food, no movement. Blech-ola! Well, after a week of nothingness, suddenly the sand is gone. Well, not just gone, it's swept away by huge ocean waves that are now terrorizing your poor neighborhood. As the waves crash on top of you, the sand that's still everywhere pelts you and stings. If you had any graffitti on your belly button, rest assured that it's been sand-blasted away by now. All right, you say, so maybe it's not all that easy. But wait! Now that you are finally out in the sunlight and can eat again, along comes a tiny little white cell. It looks harmless enough, but it lands on your cheek and starts burrowing into your head. It then starts sucking out your vital juices and grows to become a humongous white wart bigger than your face! Man, what more could go wrong? Well, since you asked, the next set of waves brings in a swarm of grappling hooks that wedge themselves all over your room. Under the bed, on your chair, even around your legs. Soon you discover that these grappling hooks are actually seeds. You discover this because they have now sprouted and are getting so thick that there's hardly any space in your room left for you. It's dark, and smothering, and these plants are growing right over you. So, even without my mentioning the 10 foot tall snails that start eating your left arm, you may get the idea that being Gracilariopsis might not be the easiest thing in the world.

--Ben Hale 1999.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009