British Phycological Society in association with the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Identification of Challenging Seaweeds   (including non-natives and seagrass epiphytes)

Tuesday 5th to Thursday 7th May 2020

Marine Biological Association, Plymouth 

Pneophyllum fragile on Zostera marina.


A field course by Professor Christine Maggs (JNCC, Peterborough), Francis Bunker (MarineSeen, Pembrokeshire) & Professor Juliet Brodie (Natural History Museum)

PLUS other guest teachers and speakers

This course is designed for those who want to look at seaweeds in more detail and get to grips with the more difficult groups (e.g. slimy green and brown seaweeds and red seaweeds that can only be identified reliably under high powered microscopes or by sectioning). Attention will be given to recognising non-native species, of which several are known in Plymouth Sound. Seagrass beds are a topical subject due to both their ecological importance and the diversity of species found within. Collections will be made from local seagrass (Zostera marina) beds to examine the epiphytes living on them.

Numbers will be limited to enable the tutors to cater for individual needs of interested amateurs, professional biologists requiring further training or refreshers, students (undergraduate and postgraduate), artists, foragers, and those working with the Water Framework Directive.

Topics to be covered

  • Identifying ‘difficult’ red, green and brown seaweeds
  • Recognising and identifying non-native species
  • Identify the slime. Identifying seaweeds found in habitats such as marinas.
  • Identifying seaweeds epiphytic on seagrass
  • Encrusting seaweeds and how to identify by sectioning.
  • Preparing specimens for DNA extraction and analysis techniques
  • Culture of seaweeds for research purposes
  • Pressing seaweeds
  • Water Framework Directive Species Identification


The Plymouth area has an exceptionally diverse intertidal flora and offers habitats for marine algae ranging from open coast to sheltered rock and sediment and from fully saline to estuarine conditions. The MBA is an ideal location at which to base this course with its excellent laboratory facilities (with ready supplies of running seawater) and proximity to field sites.

Students work in the lab at the MBA

Outline Course Program:

The course will start at 0915 on Tuesday, 5th May and end at 1500 on Thursday 7th May (Sites chosen for field visits may vary depending on weather conditions etc).

Day 1 – Field trip to a local shore together, laboratory identification and lectures on recent advances in the identification of the Bangiales, Ceramiales and Rhodymeniales.

Day 2 – Field trip to a contrasting habitat, laboratory identification and short lectures on a variety of topics.

Day 3 – Identification of seagrass epiphytes (collected by divers). Optional field trip to a marina to collect filamentous seaweeds found in sheltered habitats.


The course fee is £260 (inc VAT) which will cover the teaching and use of laboratory facilities (excluding food and accommodation).

The MBA has an excellent canteen that can provide packed lunches and evening meals. We have found that eating ‘in house’ is very useful to course members. There are evening lectures and a chance to work on in the laboratory. The food is very good and represents good value for money. If meals are required, the cost of lunches (3) and evening meals (2) is £100.00 (inc. VAT) per person. When ordering meals, please indicate your dietary requirements on the application form.

Recommended for this course is the book ‘Seasearch Guide to Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland’ by Francis Bunker, Juliet Brodie, Christine Maggs and Anne Bunker. The cost is £14.99 plus postage of £2.99. This can be purchased as a package along with the course. For more information or to purchase separately click here

Application forms and payment 

Please check course availability first by contacting the course administrator Sally Archer-Thomson at Sally will email you back to confirm either way. If there are places available you will be provisionally added to the booking list. Provisional places will be held for 7 days and can only be confirmed by returning the application form with full payment.

Fees are payable in advance (before April 2020) to MarineSeen. If order numbers are required prior to invoices being paid, please supply ASAP.

Send cheques (payable to ‘MarineSeen’) and completed application forms to: Honey Hook Cottage, Lower Freystrop, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom, SA62 4ET. Application forms can also be emailed to

If you would like to pay by PayPal/credit card please select either the course only option for £260 or the course plus meal package for £360. Then click add to cart which will take you straight to your Paypal/credit card payment options (opens in a new tab). Once at this screen you have the option to change the quantity if you would like to book for more than 1 person. If you would like to add on extras to your booking, such as the Seaweed Book, click ‘continue shopping’ on the Paypal cart screen and it will bring you back to this page where you can add other options to your cart. (Please do check course availability first)



Information on the location of the MBA and how to reach it via road, ferry, public transport and airports can be found at the following address:


There are many small hotels and B&B’s within walking distance of the MBA.