by Piter Kehoma Boll
Today I’m going to introduce you to the possibly most beautiful alga. Its name is Claudea elegans, which I adapted as “elegant claudea” to serve as a popular name.
I first became aware of the existence of such an organism in my childhood when I saw a drawing of it in an encyclopedia. It had a very beautiful shape, a nice pink color and a cute name. But it was simply depicted among several other algae on that page and besides the drawing and the name, nothing else was said.
Unfortunately, there is not much information available online on the elegant claudea. It is a marine species found in Australia, Brazil, India, Pakistan and probably many other tropical waters around the world, being usually attached to rocks near sand and in places with a good current flow.
It reaches up to 40 cm in height/length and is composed of branched stalks with a very peculiar pattern. The stalk has a sort of net on one of its sides that makes it look like a one-sided feather. The net is formed by many smaller stalks connected to each other by even smaller ones, one those again to each other by the smallest of all. The branches from the main stalk always come out from the opposite side of the net and have themselves a net on one of its sides and smaller stalks growing opposite to it. The elegant claudea is, therefore, somewhat a double fractal.
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Baldock, R. N. Algae revealed: Claudea elegans. State Herbarium S Australia. Availabe at: <http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/efsa/algae_revealed/pdf/Claudea_elegans.pdf>. Access on February 25, 2016.
Pacheco, M. R. 2011. Macroalgas marinhas associadas a bancos de rodolitos do infralitoral do Espírito Santo, Brasil. Doctoral thesis. USP.
Electronic Flora of South Australia: Claudea elegans. Available online at: <http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/efsa/Marine_Benthic_Flora_SA/Part_IIID/Claudea_elegans.shtml>. Access on February 15, 2016.