Course Description

The focus of the course is to learn how to recognize and identify the common subtidal and intertidal marine algae (seaweeds) that occur in the Central Coast area of California. The basic morphology of the algal body is presented, highlighting the important characters needed to identify seaweeds using identification keys.

Other topics include the distribution of seaweeds along the California coast, biogeography of the Point Conception area, evolution of major algal groups, and the implications for seaweed distribution in a changing marine environment. The preparation and use of seaweed specimens in herbarium research are reviewed, as well as hands-on experience making specimens. We will also discuss the use of biodiversity informatics in understanding seaweed diversity and distribution.

Course Outline



  • 2:00 PM: Arrive separately at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, and meet up with Wahlert and Miller
  • 3:00 PM: Orientation; begin workshop activities; visit field site (tide permitting)


  • 9:00-1:00 AM: Laboratory activity; examination, identification and discussion of fresh seaweeds; visit field site (tide permitting)
  • 3:00-6:00 PM: Continued laboratory activity; visit field site (tide permitting)


  • 9:00 AM-afternoon: Continued laboratory activity; visit field site (tide permitting)
  • return home

Learner Outcomes

The primary learning outcome of this course is for students to be able to identify common seaweeds from the northern Channel Islands and Santa Barbara coastal area. Other knowledge students will develop is the use of herbarium specimens and online biodiversity databases in documenting seaweed diversity, the use of identification keys, basic macroalgal morphology, understanding the broad biogeographic patterns of the Point Conception area and a familiarity with the natural history and endemism found in the Channel Islands.


Target audience: A range of participants, from naturalists and students to staff, faculty, and professional phycologists.

Inquiries can be directed to Greg Wahlert: wahlert@ccber.ucsb.edu

Classes are offered according to the schedule on the respective Certificate or Program Page. Please click on the Request Information below to be promptly notified when enrollment opens.