Orkney Seaweed Survey (Family Challenge)

*COMPETITION CLOSED* We are no longer taking entries for this competition.

Join us in the Orkney Seaweed Survey! How much seaweed is there around Orkney’s shorelines? Find out and let us know! Prize for the best entry!

Then you can use your information to complete the Natural History Museum and the Marine Conservation Society Big Seaweed Survey. They have no records from Orkney yet – can you help by recording the seaweeds on an Orkney shore?

How to join the Orkney Seaweed Survey

  • Go to a shoreline near you, around low tide
  • Choose a strip running from the sea to the high-water mark
  • Use the guides provided to identify the types of seaweed
  • Where is it? What type of shore is it? (Beach? Rocky? Bay? Promontory?)
  • Record what you find on a simple form, and take photos, draw sketches
Did you know?

Seaweed is an eco-friendly ingredient in paint, clothes, toothpaste, beer, tomato ketchup and ice-cream!!!!

Seaweed is a good organic fertiliser.

Growing seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide in its fronds. Idea! Reduce CO2 in the atmosphere – put a seaweed farm beside an offshore wind farm. Cows emit lots of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. But if fed on some seaweeds, they produce less, so help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere!

In Orkney dialect Ware grows below low tide and Tang grows on rocks higher up the shore but the seaweed Tangle is actually a ware! Orkney sheep have eaten seaweed since Neolithic times – in North Ronaldsay the sheep are famous for their seaweed diet!

People can eat seaweed. It is an important part of Asian cuisine and you can sustainably harvest your own or find it in Shearers in Kirkwall or the Bayleaf Delicatessen in Stromness!

The red seaweed Dulse gets a mention in the 900AD saga of the Viking poet Egil: “Then Egil said, ‘That happens if you eat Dulse, it makes you even thirstier.” (Ch 79)

In Scots, Ware grows in the sea and Tang on rocks uncovered at low tide.

as in ‘…You’ve never smelled the tangle o’ the Isles’.

In Orkney, Knotted Wrack is called Yellow Tang and seaweed collects on Warbeth Beach.

Rules of the Competition:

  1. Open to families in Orkney.
  2. A ‘family’ means any group which includes an adult and someone under 16.
  3. To enter, do a seaweed survey somewhere in Orkney.
  4. Entries must be submitted using this Google Form by Friday 24 September 2021. Under-16 entries must come from an adult’s email id.
  5. Please submit a short description along with Photo or sketch reference with your entry.
  6. Please upload all your files in one link using the “Get link” function via https://wetransfer.com. To find out how to get link using WeTransfer, check this website: How do I send a link transfer? Alternatively, post the photographs to: FAO Katy Firth, Stromness Museum, 52 Alfred St, Stromness KW16 3DH.
  7. Take part for a chance to win a voucher from one of the following: The Daily Scoop in Kirkwall for 4 x ice-creams OR from Shearers in Kirkwall, OR The Bayleaf Deli, Stromness, both of whom sell seaweed products, OR from Stromness Museum


  • Always take an adult with you.
  • Seaweed is slippery: take care and move slowly.
  • Large waves can catch you out. Be aware of the tide and don’t turn your back on the sea.
  • Wash your hands after touching seaweed.

Spring tides occur when the sun, moon and earth are in line and happen just after every full and new moon. Despite the name, Spring tides happen all year round when there is a big difference between high tide mark and low water. Neap tides are nothing to do with turnips! It means there is less difference between low and high water. Low water during a Spring tide, when the low water mark is VERY low, is a great time to spot seaweeds that live below low water, like the larger kelps.

You can check tide times for some Orkney beaches here: Tide times. Find out about the tide times where you are by asking someone who knows about the sea.

Always go at low tide to look for seaweeds. Each seaweed has a particular part of the beach it lives in, they have their own zone between high and low water mark.

Now find some seaweed! And complete the entry form. Good luck!