Rocky shores that are exposed to severe wave action, for instance headlands and those facing the open Atlantic, have slightly different plants. Some plants, such as sugar kelp, are unable to withstand the force of the waves, and are not found here. Others, such as knotted wrack, take a severe battering in the winter but manage to regrow during the calmer summer months. Bladder wrack plants, however, grow without bladders because to do so would allow the waves to rip them off the rock more easily. The pink encrusting weed does particularly well in these places, and can be seen growing high up the walls of sea caves in exposed areas such as Toe Head. In very exposed places even oarweed plants find it difficult to hang on against the force of the ocean waves. Here you will find Alaria instead, which can be recognised by the stalk running down the whole length of the leaf.
Alaria (Photo: Sue Scott)
The flexible stalk down the middle of the leaf gives this weed the ability to hold on where other large weeds would be torn off by the waves.
Egg Wrack and Porphyra (Photo: Paul Tyler)
These green stalks are all that remain of egg wrack plants after a stormy winter on the west coast. They will regrow in the spring. The red weed is called Porphyra.
Bladder Wrack (Photo: Paul Tyler)
This is bladder wrack with no bladders! It grows on very exposed rocky shores where air bladders would increase its risk of being torn from the rock by the surf.
This plant is growing at Horgabost.
by Paul TylerNext Section