Low Tide Life: Irish Moss

Photo of Irish Moss beds

Along the New England coastline, Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus), a common type of red algae, occupies the mid-to-lower intertidal and shallow sub-tidal zone. Species like Knotted Wrack and Bladder Wrack generally occur in higher zones, whereas Kelps (including Atlantic Kombu) typically grow in lower zones. Irish Moss is hidden at high tide (unless you count detached pieces in the wrack-line), but is revealed as low tide approaches. This small species is usually reddish/purple, but can show a range of colors from yellow to green to brown. Sun-dried samples found washed up on beaches may be light pink or white. Living specimens are edible and can be used to thicken soups, drinks, and other culinary creations. (To see the following photos in full-size, click here.)

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