The rain splashed down on the luxurious green carpet draped across the land near Bodega Bay, CA. In the ocean, powerful waves battered the rocks, creating frothy white foam frosting the rugged coastline. Community members from Bodega Bay and surrounds battled the elements to join the Bodega Marine Sciences Association at Bodega Marine Laboratory on March 5th, 2016 for their first Art and Science event: Algae Pressing Workshop. Nicole Kollars, the main organizer of the workshop, gave an engaging and interesting presentation introducing algae followed by a lesson on the importance of algae pressing for scientific and artistic purposes along with a demonstration by Peter Connors. The community members then had the chance to get creative and make their own algae pressings to take home.
Marine algae are an integral part of marine food webs and provide habitat for many animals. In addition, algae is a crucial ingredient, known as carrageenan, in many of our everyday household products, including toothpaste and ice cream and also serves as an important food source. Surprisingly, algae can grow in unexpected places, such as on the hairs of sloths! Algae is not only a key player in marine systems and useful to us, but also has extreme artistic intrigue and beauty. It comes in an array of beautiful forms and colors, ranging from delicate rust red branches to thick, olive-green, bubbled forms.
Marine algae can be pressed to preserve specimens in a botanical collection and saved for future reference or viewed as art. What amazed me about pressing algae was the dramatic difference between algae in versus out of water, and the pressings capture the beauty and form that often can only be seen underwater.
The community participants had a great time getting creative with algae, and the event was a huge success! A huge thanks to Nicole Kollars for organizing and running the event, Peter Connors for his algae expertise, and all of the volunteers and participants.
Freshly harvested algae- please be aware of collecting regulations in your area, along with restricted areas (CA regulations here)
Polyester fabric pieces
Heavy books or a press
Photo credits: Gabriel Ng