Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Mazzaella flaccida

This properties of this extraordinary alga provide a remarkable vehicle for investigating diverse area of physics, ecology, engineering, and biology. Mazzaella's (Iridaea's) isomorphic life history offers a textbook example of a typical red algal triphasic existence. The reflective and refractive properties of its multilayered cuticle can be employed in explaining the phenomenon of iridescence. The mechanical properties of M. flaccida's thallus offer insights into algal adaptations to mechanical stress. Its behavior in flow helps to elucidate the consequences of wave forces on the distribution of intertidal algae. Last but not least, the sight of iridescent Mazzaellan thalli flowing subtidally always inspires even the most exhausted student of biology with a renewed awe for the beauty of marine algae.