Annotated Selected Readings

The following references explore various aspects of seaweeds, their biology, their uses and those who study them. Some of the references are very technical and some are not, but even the most technical of treatments is informative for the lay person or student. The books and journals are available in university libraries and some public libraries; the online resources require internet access.

Identification of Local Seaweeds, Seagrasses and Shore Plants

Various Aspects of Seaweed Biology

General Ecology

Ethnobotany, Culture and Applied Phycology


Scientific Journals



Identification of Local Seaweeds, Seagrasses and Shore Plants


Abbott, I.A. and G.J. Hollenberg (1976). Marine Algae of California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 827 pages.

This comprehensive treatment of California seaweeds had its origin in G.M. Smith’s Marine Algae of the Monterey Peninsula, California (1944). It has been expanded, thanks to numerous contemporary local studies. Many of the 669 species detailed in this monograph are found distributed from Alaska to Mexico. Each of them is illustrated by a lovely line drawing. An extensive glossary assists the reader in understanding the terminology used to describe seaweeds. Professor George F. Papenfuss contributed an exhaustive sketch of the historical landmarks in the development of our understanding of Pacific North American seaweeds. Many of the scientific names used in this book are out of date, but it remains the only illustrated comprehensive treatment of our seaweeds.


Gabrielson, P.W., S.C. Lindstrom, and C.J. O’Kelly (2012). Keys to the Benthic Marine Algae and Seagrasses of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Phycological Contribution no. 8. Island Blue/Printonium Bookworks. 192 pages.

This comprehensive guide to the identification of seaweeds considers approximately 639 forms, mostly species. Many of them are also found in California, particularly north of Point Conception. Older names of the various seaweeds are presented along with their new identities. Thus, many out-of-date seaweed names in the Abbott and Hollenberg (1976) treatment of California seaweed flora can be corrected by referring to this work. A glossary is provided to assist in using the identification keys. This guide is a companion volume to the Scagel and colleagues (1989) seaweed synopsis (see below).


Guiry, M.D. & G.M. Guiry (2015). AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Our first stop for information related to seaweeds and hands-down the most comprehensive and accurate global database of information related to marine, freshwater, estuarine and terrestrial algae. As of November 2015, Algaebase contained 307,085 distributional records, 142,127 taxonomic names, 53,511 bibliographic items and 18,545 incredible images.


Klinkenberg, B., ed. (2013). E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Contains ecological and biogeographical information as well as photos of the flora of British Columbia, Canada, and includes a seaweed section curated by Mike Hawkes (University of British Columbia).


Lindeberg, M. & S.C. Lindstrom (2010). Seaweeds of Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks. 188 pages.

The elegant clarity of this book was inspirational to the revised Pacific Seaweeds. Unluckily, it is out of print, but luckily a digital version is available along with an excellent online companion site ( Of particular note are the stunning aerial intertidal and specimen photographs, and the helpful “similar to” section for each entry.


Silva Center for Phycological Documentation. (2015). University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley.

This site, endowed by Paul Silva, is a tribute to his passion for the development and dissemination of algal research. Contains an extensive library, many botanical databases and other resources, especially pertaining to California seaweeds.


O’Clair, R.M. and S.C. Lindstrom (2000). North Pacific Seaweeds. Auke Bay, AK: Plant Press. 159 pages.

Many of the species noted in this guide are found throughout the northeast Pacific. In addition to species descriptions, there are numerous notes on their biology. Each species is illustrated by a line drawing and given a common name, even when none existed previously.


Scagel, R.F., P.W. Gabrielson, D.J. Garbary, L. Golden, M.W. Hawkes, S.C. Lindstrom, J.C. Oliveira and T.B. Widdowson (1989). A Synopsis of the Benthic Marine Algae of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Phycological Contribution no. 3. University of British Columbia, Department of Botany. 532 pages.

This synopsis provides the reader with the classification and distribution of all known local species at the time of writing—most of those identified in the Gabrielson and colleagues (2000) study. Perhaps more important, this book guides the reader to all publications related to local species published between 1957 and 1989. For example, 92 references to bull kelp (Nereocystis) are provided. The synopsis also contains short segments on various aspects of seaweed biology, history, economics and ethnobotany.



Various Aspects of Seaweed Biology


Denny, M.W. and S.D.Gaines, eds. (2007). Encyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shores. University of California Press. 735 pages.

This book includes contributions from dozens of experts and is an encyclopedia of rocky coasts from Abalone to Zonation. Algae have nine entries, e.g., Algal Biogeography, Algal Color, but it is the overall richness of topics specific to marine coasts that makes this a reference book worth diving into.


Lee, R.E. (2008). Phycology. 4th ed. New York: Cambridge University Press. 560 pages.

This book looks at the principles of algal biology. Lee has provided some very nice biographic sketches, including photographs, of earlier phycologists.


Lüning, K. (1990). Seaweeds: Their Environment, Biogeography, and Ecophysiology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 527 pages.

This book is a great synthesis of what is understood about seaweed distributions and various aspects of their response to environmental conditions. It contains more than 2,200 references.


Hurd, L. Catriona, Paul J. Harrison, Kai Bischof, and Christopher S. Lobban (2014). Seaweed Ecology and Physiology. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. 551 pages.

This is a technical treatment of an important field of seaweed study. Coming twenty years after the first edition, Hurd and Co. have bridged an embarrassing gap in knowledge of seaweed physiology. Contemporary issues such as ocean warming, acidification, the invasion of foreign seaweeds and the potential of seaweeds as a legitimate sustainable alternative to fossil fuels—all require in-depth understanding of ecophysiology. In addition to explaining various processes, the authors provide an almost Germanic list of references to original studies: 95 pages.



General Ecology


Schiel, D.R. and M.S. Foster (2015). The Biology and Ecology of Giant Kelp Forests. University of California Press, Oakland, California. 416 pages.

This long-awaited compendium reviews studies on the giant kelp Macrocystis from Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle (1839) to contemporary studies on kelp welfare in a climatically challenged environment. The basic biology, ecology and human interaction are well documented and, more importantly, synthesized (based on more than 1,000 references). Schiel (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) and Foster (San Jose State University) confer iconic status to giant kelp beds, the ocean’s equivalent to the rainforest. In a reassuring way but with caution, they declare the beds are thriving in spite of having experienced centuries of stressors. The book is attractive and well illustrated, and quotes, opening many chapters, establish focus. The authors have, with their students, advanced our understanding of kelp forests for decades. This highly recommended tome reflects their dedication and expertise.


Carefoot, T. (1977). Pacific Seashores: A Guide to Intertidal Ecology. Vancouver: J.J. Douglas Ltd. 208 pages.

This richly illustrated treatment introduces the reader to a wide range of beach plants and animals in the context of their interactions with each other and their physical environment. The book was introduced to the public in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio interview with Tom Carefoot (University of British Columbia). On the same program, Elizabeth Carefoot’s belly-dancing career was explored. Carefoot dedicated Pacific Seashores to Elizabeth, “who first wakened in me a love of animals.”


Ricketts, E., J. Calvin, J.W. Hedgepath and D.W. Phillips (1992). Between Pacific Tides. 5th ed. Stanford University Press. 680 pages.

An absolute classic of marine biology. Simultaneously conveys the wonder and beauty of the intertidal world alongside rich scientifically accurate detail. A must-read.



Ethnobotany, Culture and Applied Phycology


Druehl, Louis and Rae Hopkins (2009). Exploring Kelp: The Kombu Story. 40 pages. Canadian Kelp Resources, Ltd.

This booklet explores the potential role of kelp in combating diseases associated with aging. This insight is provided in the form of a Japanese comic book that expresses the views of two senior Japanese phycologists with a lifetime interest in kelp and health. In addition to the comic, the authors provide a mishmash of kelp facts, several recipes and a guide to the types of kombu.


Erlandson, J., M. Graham, B. Bourgue, D. Corbett, J. Estes, and R. Steneck (2007). “The Kelp Highway Hypothesis: Marine Ecology, the Coastal Migration Theory, and the Peopling of the Americas.” The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. 2nd ed. Vol. 2, pages 161-174.

This is an exploration of the primary question: How did the Americas become peopled? The strength of the suggestions made in this treatise evolves from the variety of disciplines represented by the authors.


Garbary, D.J. and M.J. Wynne, eds. (1996). Prominent Phycologists of the 20th Century. Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press Ltd. 360 pages.

This book consists of 39 biographical sketches of our deceased phycological heroes, many written by those who knew them personally. It is very readable and has lots of nice photographs.


MacArtain, P. C.I.R Gill, M. Brooks, R. Campbell, and I.R. Rowland (2007). Nutritional Value of Edible Seaweeds. Nutrition Reviews. Vol. 65, pages 535-543.

This comprehensive survey of nutritional value of a variety of seaweeds updates much of the older information and presents it in an easily digestible manner. Unfortunately for us, many of the species investigated are not in our flora. Of particular interest is the presentation of nutritional constituents as their quantities in an 8 gram serving of seaweed, with a comparison to selected landplant foods. Seaweeds look good!


Mouritsen, Ole G. (2013). Seaweeds: Edible, Available & Sustainable. University of Chicago Press. 287 pages.

The Danish professor Mouritsen, whose specialty is the biophysics of biological membranes, provides us with an exploration of matters historic, biologic, economic and culinary. Sixteen essays address topics ranging from The Kelp Highway, through seaweed collecting in Victorian England and visiting the venerable Natural History Museum in London, to a tour of a British Columbian sea vegetable business. More than 100 pages of nutrition, recipes and seaweeds in snacks, booze, omelettes, desserts, pastas and more—all sprinkled with tantalizing illustrations and cool anecdotes provide an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Ole Mouritsen, by his missionary zeal, has given a bright new face to seaweeds.


Mouritsen, Ole G. (2009). Sushi: Food for the Body & the Soul. New York, NY: Springer. 352 pages.

Professor Mouritsen has done it again! Sushi parallels his Seaweeds in excellence of presentation and provides us with a visual, poetic and, painlessly, intellectual excursion into the wonderful world of sushi. The story unravels from the raw ingredients of sushi, including nutritional value, through the tools and preparation of sushi (lots of recipes), to many anecdotes linking sushi with cultural history, wellness and science. From the stunning illustrations and layout, courtesy of Mouritsen’s son, Jonas Drotner, the easy flowing prose, to the depth of exploration one is left exhausted and satisfied. Actually, just opening this book changes your culinary life view.


Turner, J. Nancy (2014). Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous People of Northwestern North America. McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1056 pages.

This incredible treatise provides immense insight into the lives of the West Coast’s original inhabitants from the time of the great migration to present. Professor Turner’s descriptions of seaweed gathering, processing and uses, including the role of seaweeds in legends, are vividly presented, creating a page turner. We highly recommend Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge for anyone trying to understand First Nations’ relationship to the land…knowledge that might better explain our relationship with these First Peoples.


Turner, J. Nancy (2003). “The Ethnobotany of Edible Seaweed (Porphyra abbottae and Related Species; Rhodophyta: Bangiales) and Its Use by First Nations on the Pacific Coast of Canada.”Canadian Journal of Botany. Vol. 81, pages 283-293.

This review provides a detailed picture of First Nations’ use of Pyropia and its implication for indigenous societies. It is unique in scientific literature in using a “hook” in the first line…you will keep reading.


Turner, J. Nancy (1975). Food Plants of British Columbia Indians, Part 1: Coastal Peoples. British Columbia Provincial Museum Handbook, no. 34. 264 pages.

This handbook is part of a series put out by the BC Provincial Museum, dealing with many animal and plant groups, usually presented by pioneering British Columbian authorities. Published 40 years ago, this bench-mark study concentrates on Pyropia and Macrocystis, the same two species Professor Turner expanded on in her 2015 work cited above. Comparison of these two publications exemplifies the growth of our understanding over those four decades. A particularly striking E.S. Curtis photograph (ca. 1915) called “A Northwest Coast seaweed-gatherer” deserves visiting.


Iselin, Josie (2014). An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams. 143 pages.

Spectacularly captures the beauty and diversity of seaweed forms, all done using a flat-bed scanner. The photographs are annotated with accurate, thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. A delight to view and read.





Lewallen, Eleanor and John (1996). Sea Vegetable and Wildcrafter’s Guide. Mendocino, CA: Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company. 128 pages.

We have not seen this book, but it sounds interesting. It includes gourmet recipes, tips on bathing with seaweed, a harvesting guide and the authors’ personal essays.


McConnaughey, Evelyn (1985). Sea Vegetables. Happy Camp, CA: Naturegraph Publishers Inc. 239 pages.

This very practical harvesting guide and cookbook contains a wide range of recipes, from (H)alarious Carrots to Scrambled Tofu and Arame.


Richfield, Patricia (1994). Japanese Vegetarian Cookbook. London: Judith Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd. 170 pages.

There are beautiful photographs and good menu suggestions in this book. Most of the recipes are vegan, and those that are not are clearly marked.


Rhatigan, Prannie (2009). Irish Seaweed Kitchen: The Comprehensive Guide to Healthy Everyday Cooking with Seaweeds. Booklink. 288 pages.

Richly illustrated with humour, Rhatigan’s book offers a refreshing view of seaweed cookery. The author provides and nicely packages many recipes. Seaweed smoothies, recipes for A Teddy Bear’s Picnic (gingerbread and seaweed people), Sargassum salad (finally a positive for this invasive weed), banana and Alaria loaf are a few of the many novel preparations. Several anecdotal notes provide a look into the Irish history of seaweed use. Nutritional charts and a comprehensive look at the Irish seaweed flora round out this fine book. Rhatigan, a medical doctor by training, proselytizes sea vegetable cuisine far and wide, including on our shores.



Scientific Journals


Botanica Marina. Published by Walter de Gruyter, Berlin (

This bimonthly journal publishes original studies on all marine plants, including bacteria, fungi and flowering plants. Often the articles stress applied aspects of the plant’s biology.


European Journal of Phycology. Published by the British Phycological Society (

This quarterly journal publishes original studies dealing with the basic biology of algae. Often includes book reviews and announcements of meetings.


Journal of Applied Phycology. Published by Springer, Netherlands (

This bimonthly journal focusses on original research with commercial orientation. Also published are company news, general information on new products and patents.


Journal of Phycology. Published by Phycological Society of America, Inc. (Society page:

This bimonthly journal publishes original studies into all aspects of basic algal biology. A special feature is the regular mini-review articles on rapidly advancing areas of algal research.


Phycologia. Published by the International Phycological Society (

This bimonthly journal publishes original studies in all areas of basic algal research.


Proceedings of the International Seaweed Symposium. Published in Hydrobiologia by Dr. W. Junk Publishers.

This publication is a collection of talks given once every three years at international meetings. Many papers focus on applied areas of seaweed research.