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

Introduction: 18th to 19th March


Advanced: 20th to 22nd March

Based at the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth

Run by Professor Christine Maggs (JNCC, Peterborough) & Francis Bunker (MarineSeen, Pembrokeshire)

Advanced course includes guest teachers and speakers including: Professor Ignacio Bárbara (University of A Coruña), Professor Juliet Brodie (Natural History Museum) and Anne Bunker (Natural Resources Wales).


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.


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. An accommodation list can be forwarded on request.


We are now offering two modules for this course, an introduction to seaweeds aimed at beginners or those who feel that they need a refresher in the basics and an advanced module 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). Attend the whole 5-day course for total immersion in the world of seaweeds.

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

Outline of module – An introduction to seaweeds

Start: Monday 18th March 09:00. End: Tuesday 19th March 17:00:

(Sites chosen for field visits may vary depending on weather conditions etc.)

Day 1 (Monday, 18th March) - A guided tour of a rocky shore to find the different seaweeds characterising each zone. Seaweeds will be collected to take back to the laboratory for identification. There will be introductory lectures on the topics of seaweed and seaweed identification.

Day 2 (Tuesday, 19th March) - Field trip to a contrasting habitat followed by laboratory identification and short talks on a variety of topics.

Outline of module – Advanced seaweed identification

Start: Wednesday 20th March 09:15. End: Friday 22nd March 17:00:

(Sites chosen for field visits may vary depending on weather conditions etc.)

Day 3 (Wednesday, 20th March) - A field trip to collect seaweeds from one of the species rich shores in Plymouth Sound, followed by intensive laboratory sessions on identification. Skills in the use of keys based on microscopic characters, sectioning and staining will be taught and practiced.

Day 4 – (Thursday, 21st March) - A second field trip to a local marina in Plymouth Sound with identification concentrating on filamentous algae and non-native species.

Day 5 – (Friday, 22nd March) - This will concentrate on laboratory time and practice / consolidation of techniques learned. The topic of molecular taxonomy will be introduced and together with a summary of techniques involved. There will be an opportunity for further field collections if requested.

Costs and applications

18th to 22nd March: Whole Course - A whole week immersion in the world of seaweeds. Cost of course £400. Food at the MBA 5 lunches, four dinners, tea and coffee £190.00

18th to 19th March: Introduction - Cost of course £170.Food at the MBA: Two lunches, one dinner, tea and coffee £55 or Two lunches, two dinners, tea and coffee £90.

20th to 22nd March: Advanced - Cost of course £250.  Food at the MBA: Three lunches, two dinners, tea and coffee £100.00

The MBA provides excellent catering and 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. Wine is included with the meals which good value for money. When ordering meals, please indicate your dietary requirements.

Application forms are available from the course administrator, Sally Archer-Thomson.


Fees are payable in advance (before January 30th 2019) to MarineSeen.

Send cheques and completed application forms to: Honey Hook Cottage, Lower Freystrop, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom. SA62 4ET

Credit card payments are not accepted. Payment via Paypal on request.

If order numbers are required prior to invoices being paid, please supply ASAP.

Topics to be covered - Introduction

Common shore species and how to identify them

Rock pools, overhangs and special seaweed habitats

Use of keys and identification guides, microscopes and identification in the lab

Pressing seaweeds

Water Framework Directive Species Identification

Topics to be covered - Advanced

Identifying seaweeds from ‘difficult’ marine habitats e.g. marinas and lagoons and recognising non-natives

Identify the slime. Filamentous red, brown and green seaweeds

Difficult flat red seaweeds

Encrusting seaweeds

Laboratory techniques for sectioning and staining

Preparing specimens for DNA extraction and analysis techniques

Culture of seaweeds for research purposes