Photo courtesy of Courtney Miller

Bladderwrack's humble abode (Habitat)

Landscape of Fucus vesiculosus - Courtesy of Ester SerraoFucus vesiculosus can grow in the littoral zone, where the tide changes the depth of the water, and the sublittoral zone, where the organism is constantly submerged. Being in the littoral zone can cause a couple of complications for the thallus of bladderwrack. For example, when the low tide comes and the water recedes further back into the ocean, many organisms are left to "sunbathe" on rocks, possibly drying out.

Bladderwrack's "hood" 
The common distribution for bladderwrack is around the north Atlantic, in more temperate waters with lower salinity. The picture at the top of the page, off the shore of Ireland (image courtesy of Courtney Miller), is an example of the habitat that you can find bladderwrack in. Shores such as these may lead to the organism not developing the air bladders that are the signature of bladderwrack simply because they can be damaged to easily. A little more sheltered shoreline, where the tide doesn't vary as much, such as the one upwards and to the right, is where you can find F. vesiculosus with bladders. The map below shows the distribution across the entire north Atlantic.

Distribution of Fucus vesiculosus - Created by Author 

Picture of young bladderwracks - Photo by Gareth Pearson in MaineJust keep swimming... Or not.
Bladderwrack is most commonly attached to hard substrata such as pebbles, rocks, and dense sea beds. The connection to the substrate is with a discoid holdfast, a root-like structure that simply aids in anchoring the organism and ensuring it does not get pulled out into the ocean. The picture to the right shows very young bladderwracks who have just attached to their new "home." The young organisms have populated the rock very densely, but some will probably end up dying due to competition for sunlight.


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