Island Life

The seaweeds of Rathlin

Tuesday 14/05/24

From 7th-9th May Libby Keatley and Christine Morrow from Queen’s University Marine Laboratory, and Bernard Picton from National Museums Northern Ireland accompanied the DAERA intertidal monitoring team to survey the shore seaweeds found on Rathlin.

Rathlin has some fantastic shores and the team recorded a high diversity of seaweeds as well as some rare animals including the stalked jellyfish (Haliclystus octoradiatus), the gem anemone (Bunodactis verrucosa), and the tiny cushion starfish (Asterina phylactica). These are only known from a few sites in Northern Ireland so the team were delighted to be able to get photographs of these rare species to add to the DAERA Environment Fund project – Marine Biodiversity Data Portal – NI – a website that is being developed to allow exploration of Northern Ireland’s marine biodiversity and habitats.

The team set up a makeshift lab with microscopes and cameras at the Richard Branson Centre. The seaweeds were identified, photographed with a high-resolution camera, and a selection were pressed as herbarium specimens. The specimens will be part of an important reference collection for future studies, including DNA analysis.

Many thanks to David and the RDCA for allowing us to use the Richard Branson Centre. Below are some photographs from our time on Rathlin.


Some intertidal seaweeds from Church Bay.


The stalked jellyfish Haliclystus octoradiatus from Church Bay.


Gem anemone Bunodactis verrucosa from Rue Point.


Cushion starfish Asterina phylactica from Rue Point.