Eyelash Seaweed

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

eyelash seaweed.jpg

Dione arcuata - Endemic to New Zealand this is a tiny, marine red algae, the thickness of a human eyelash. It is extremely rare and is similar to some of the oldest known fossils of multicellular organisms. It is found on only 4 boulders on the Kaikoura coast, most frequently on the shaded side of boulders that are exposed during extreme low tides. Little is known about the eyelash seaweed ecology. It has a two-part life cycle in which it grows in small shell or rock cavities, and when the water temperature is right, it will produce spores which drift in sea currents. These will grow into the 1.5cm eyelash-like algae in summer. In 2016, the Kaikoura earthquake is thought to have caused the near extinction of this species. The seaweed is threatened by changes in the marine environment, as any slight change in temperature could disturb the cycle of this species.