On May 31, the Marine Research Institute (MRI) initiated a three week expedition to study the seaweeds of the east coast of Iceland. The main aim of the research is to register species and their distribution along the shores of Iceland. The study is a cooperative effort of the MRI, the Natural History Museum, London and the Botanical Museum in Copenhagen.
It forms part of a wider study of the seaweeds of the North Atlantic and the research group has previously worked in the Faroes, Western Noway and the Shetland Isles. The current expedition completes the studies covering the whole coastline of the island.
In recent years the distribution of marine organisms in the North Atlantic has been markedly changing. This has been attributed to transport of species between areas by humans and to global warming. Part of the present study is to document these changes and at the same time evaluate the marine biodiversity in the region.
Seaweeds are collected from land in the intertidal zone and by diving in the sublittoral, to the depth of 30 m. Back in the laboratory the species are identified and specimens dried, that will be maintained as a reference collection at the Natural History Museum in Reykjavík. Samples for genetic and culture studies are also taken.