Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09

Student: Mata McAskill

Mentor: Patty Lein

Title: Seaweed Survey of Three Mile Harbor.

Description: I collected algae from Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton, New York. I identified the algae and pressed them on to herbarium paper. I also created a poster about the zonation, the morphology, nutrients, and the reproduction of algae. This poster will be used to inform the public about the species of algae in Three Mile Harbor and facts about them. My final product is the poster and a book containing all of my pressed algae samples. Throughout this process I have learned both how to press and identify algae. I chose this project because of my interest in Marine Biology.


Final Poster

For my senior project I did a general survey of seaweed in Three Mile Harbor.  I researched and designed a scientific poster to better educate the public about local species of seaweed.  My original plans for senior project was to create an artificial reef for fish and other species.  An artificial reef is a man made reef environment.  The main problems with this was that the tubing for the reef were hundreds of dollars and the project would have taken longer then the given time period to get good results.  Then I started emailing Dr. Larry Liddle, who became my outside consultant.  He is a phycologist, which is an expert in the biology of algae.  He does algae pressing as a scientific study and hobby.  He was a friend of the family because he had been both my parentsŐ professor in Southampton College.  After having a few discussions through email, we decided that I could do a survey of algae in a local water system, Three Mile Harbor.  I would be pressing the algae and identifying it and then I would create a poster to better educate the public.  I arranged for a date and time to meet with Dr. Liddle and I drove up the Southampton Marine Station.  We collected algae off the dock and he showed me how to press the algae and gave me a list of the supplies I would need to get started.  The project goals were the following: Learning how to press and identify algae.  Collect enough specimens to cull 10 quality pressings of different species of algae.  Learning how to frame and present algae specimens in a museum style.  Learning the terminology of phycology.  For field research I collected most of the algae near the shore, with the exception of deep-water algae with John Aldred from the East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery.  While I spent many days looking for and collecting algae, I realized that further study of the harbor is necessary for a complete listing of algae of species in the harbor and to better understand patterns of zonation, which can be a direction for future research.  In the end, my study became an exploratory field research.  To identify the algae I used several identification keys and it was not easy to identify the algae due to similarities in morphology.  During my presentation I showed two different samples of algae that looked very similar and I had a blow up picture of the different tips to show how I identified them.  I used the identification keys and a magnifying glass to identify them, and I had Dr. Liddle as final back up.  For reference research I researched books and online sources for the poster content and I talk to Dr. Liddle about how the algae reproduces, identification verification, and other topics for the poster.  During this whole process I had to learn and develop a new skill set to understand the terminology associated with the study of algae while reading the books.  I had about 9 different algae texts and most of them were upper level college and beyond.  I was not used to much of the scientific vocabulary and I would have to read it over and over again until I understood it.  I had a few problems and challenges occur during the process of the project.  During the collection process, I would have problems with tides and weather.  I had problems with the time because the low and high tide would not work out with my time and this was very necessary to my collection.  I had problems with the weather because there were quite a few storms and I would be unable to collect during these storms.  I had problems during the pressing process, such as warping, wrinkling and mold.  The warping and wrinkling was unavoidable because Dr. Liddle said my herbarium paper was too thin.  This was very helpful to know because I was freaking out about the wrinkles and warping of the paper.  A lot of the larger seaweed samples started to develop mold and even though I tried to clean them with rubbing alcohol, they dried out and I was unable to keep them.  I had problems with framing the algae because it was a time consuming and exacting process.  The biggest problem was identification and reading the upper level textbooks.  Throughout this whole project I learned a lot about the algae, codium.  I have always seen it when I was walking along the beach, but I never thought much of it.  It turns out that it is an invasive species.  It changes different colors at different zones in the water to be able to receive energy from different wavelengths of light.  Codium is a prolific reproducer and can live in almost any zone and any season.  It is called sputnik weed because it was introduced to the United States during 1957.  I achieved many skills though this project and they were the following: I am able to use a key index to indentify algae.  I learned how to press algae successfully.  I learned a new vocabulary from reading books on algae.  I learned how to frame algae properly.  Key indexs are used throughout the field of biology to help identify and classify specimens.  It has trained my eyes to look for details of the structure.  These skills will help me in the future of this project.  For my conclusion, I plan to continue this once the weather is nice again and I hope to sell a few at art shows because many people love how they look.  I plan to attend college for Marine Biology so this scientifically helped me towards this career.  I liked this project overall because it was a nice combination of science and art.

Works Cited

Bold, Harold C. and Michael J. Wynne. Introduction. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall Inc, 1985.

Frost, Alex and Molly Fallon. The Guide to Pressing Seaweed Practical Instructions for students, educators, and enthusiasts. Peace Dale: Cryptogrammic Botany Company, 2003.

Lobban, Christopher S. and Michael J. Wynne. The Biology of Seaweeds. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981.

Lobban, Christopher S. and Paul J. Harrison. Seaweed Ecology and Physiology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Petry, Loren C. and Marcia G. Norman. A Beachcomber's Botany. Chatham: Chatham Conservation Foundation Press, 1968.

University, Washington State. EZ-ID Shore Plants. 2008. 16 September 2008 <

Villalard-Bohnsack, Martine. Illustrated Key to the Seaweeds of New England. Kingston: Rhode Island Natural History Survey, 1995.

Weiss, Howard M. Marine Animals of Southern New England and New York. Hartford: Connecticut Department of Environmental Press, 1995.

Wilcox, Lee W. and Linda E. Graham. Algae. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall Inc., 2000.

Zaiko, Anastasija. Codium fragile. 2005. 6 December 2008 <>.

Community Member (Details)

Dr. Larry Liddle, was my outside consultant and helped identify and come up with topics for my poster.  I met with him at least three times to show him my product and to go over my poster. 

John Aldred works for the East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery and he took me out on his boat after school to collect algae from deeper areas of Three Mile Harbor with a long clam rake device.  I worked with him for about 4-5 hours.