Nori     Porphyra sp.

The light brownish red lacy material on top of the green branches of Pickle Weed in the photograph is a common intertidal marine seaweed called Nori by the Japanese.  It is also called Laver.  There are 22 different species of nori in this area which can only be told apart through detailed examination by experts.  Nori is a member of the large group of algae called Rhodophyta or red algae.  Red algae are a very diverse group of marine plants found all over the world.

It looks like an unappetizing slippery goo, but in fact it is one of the most commonly eaten seaweeds in the world.  Anyone who has eaten the oriental sandwiches called sushi has eaten nori.  It is the thin black outer wrapping holding the rice and raw fish together.

Nori used for human consumption is grown in vast aquaculture projects in asia.  Nets used to grow the seaweed are seeded from the filamentous life history stage that grows in oyster shells.  The nori blade then grows on the nets which is suspended near the surface of the water until it reaches several inches in length.  It is then stripped off using an underwater vacuum.  The individual blades are meshed together on a sieve making a paper-like product.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources investigated the biological and financial potential of Puget Sound to culture nori in the early 1980's.  After several years of work, in consultation with a nori culture expert from japan, the biological feasibility to culture nori in Puget Sound was established.  Small private operations were undertaken but large scale culture has not occurred.