Fred's algal adventure

Rainbo Nixon and Fred Gurgel.
Image: Gary Cranitch


During the Ningaloo expedition Dr Carlos Fredrico Gurgel, "Fred", has been in search of algae.
Fred works for the University of Adelaide, the Department for Environment and Heritage South Australia, the South Australian Herbarium and SARDI-Aquatic Sciences.
The curator and research fellow has been combing the reef and ocean floor in search of species that are present in WA and to document species that may occur in other regions.
Fred has been scuba diving, snorkelling and searching the shoreline for algae that has washed up.
He said while collection was important, once back in his makeshift CReefs Laboratory (at the back of the gazebo which also houses our communal kitchen and dining room) documentation was also imperative.
He said the algae samples were stored in three ways.
  • In silica beads to dehydrate them;
  • Pressed between paper blots for insertion in the herbarium collections; and
  • In formalin solution which allows morphological information to be preserved
Fred said that each sample must be stored in all three ways as the silica beads and pressing the samples between pieces of paper can change the morphology (structure) of the plant after dehydration.
He said one thing that was especially interesting at Ningaloo was that they had found some species that are generally restricted to colder waters.
Fred said this could be because there was a mixture of warm and cold waters on Ningaloo Reef. He noted the good conditions on the Reef.
He said that while it was too early to know if they had come across any new species. Once they had returned to a laboratory for a proper detailed morphological and molecular analysis, all would be revealed.