Red Ogo Seaweed

Gracilaria pacifica

red_ogo_seaweed
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The Science

Carlsbad Aquafarm

Taxonomic description

  • Colored pale red to pinkish [1,2]
  • Has a central axis from which up to 14 branches arise, each with 2-3 orders of branching [2]
  • Slender branches, 1-3 mm (0.04- 0.12”) diameter [1]
  • Grows to 30--70 cm (1-- 2.3 ft) tall [2]
  • Used to be grouped with Gracilaria verrucosa [2]

Distribution

  • Found from Southern California to Alaska [2]

Life history

  • Like many seaweeds, it has separate, free-living sporophyte (2n) and gametophyte (1n) stages. 
  • Each stage looks similar, with the female gametophytes most obvious when reproductive due to dark bumpy reproductive structures (cystocarps) on branches [2]

Habitat

  • Found on soft substrates, with fine to coarse texture [4]
  • Infrequent, discontinuous distribution on coarse sand or rocks with the ability to form dense beds in some areas [1,4]
  • Mostly found in sheltered water from subtidal to high intertidal elevations [1,4]
  • Commonly grows in association with a closely related seaweed, Gracilaria lemaneiformis [1]

The Fishery

Carlsbad Aquafarm

Seasonal availability

  • Available May -- November
  • Takes a few months to create a harvestable mass [5]

Managing authority

  • Growing methods & product are regulated by federal, state & local agencies (e.g., Army Corps of Engineers (lead), NOAA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, US. Dept of Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration, County Dept of Public Health). 
  • California Aquaculture Association promotes sustainable commercial production of plants and animals by conserving California’s land & water.

Gear type

  •  Grown in onshore tanks containing seawater & exposed to natural sunlight [5]
  •  In Hawai’i, a related species is grown in baskets at the surface of fish ponds where it can utilize excess nutrients [6].

Status of the fishery

  • G. pacifica is native to this coast and it not currently under any threat of decline.
  • Abundant enough to form beds in some parts of its range, especially in response to nutrient addition.

Potential ecosystem impacts

  •  Aquaculture reduces the pressure on local natural populations and limits the need for imported seafood.
  •  No direct ecosystem effects of the gear except for the loss of upland habitat to make room for the tanks.
  •  Farming of this seaweed, as with most, improves water quality through the removal of nutrients.

The Seafood

thekitchn.com

Edible portions

  • Whole seaweed is eaten

Culinary uses

  • Can be stored up to three days in a refrigerator in a covered container (do not place in water)
  • Dipping the seaweed into boiling water for approximately ten seconds diminishes saltiness and brightens color, but reduces crispiness [10]
  • Is great marinated, added to salads, sandwiches or pastas, or in any dish as a substitute for lettuce.
  • Examples of dishes include seaweed and cucumber salad (with feta cheese and lemon) and healthy wraps with seaweed wrapped around rice, seafood or other meats. 

Description of seaweed

  • Crispy texture with a slightly salty taste
  • When fresh, the seaweed has a bright red color, however changes to dark green once cooked [9]

Nutritional information  

  • Considered a “superfood” because it is high in important trace minerals, and potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and iodine [9] 

Toxicity report

  • There are no known contaminants 

Seasonal availability

  • Available farm fresh in San Diego May -- November.

References

1. Abbott, I., G. Hollenberg. 1992. Marine Algae of California. Stanford University Press. 844 pp. (listed as G. verrucosa)

2. Abbott, I.A. , J.N. Norris.1985. Taxonomy of economic seaweeds with reference to some Pacific and Caribbean species. California Sea Grant College Program.

3. Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. 2013. AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway. http://www.algaebase.org/search/species/detail/?species_id=4965.

4. Schaeffer, K., K. McGourty, and N. Cosentino-Manning (eds.) 2007. Report on the subtidal habitats and associated biological taxa in San Francisco Bay.

NOAA Santa Rosa Office.

5. Carlsbad Aquafarm. Prod. Brian Robles and Cindy Kendrick. Green-Scene, 2013. YouTube.

6. Glenn, EP, et al. 1998. A sustainable culture system for Gracilaria parvispora (Rhodophyta) using sporelings, reef growout and floating cages in Hawaii. Aquaculture 165: 221-232

7. Schaeffer, K., K. McGourty, and N. Cosentino-Manning (eds.) 2007. Report on the subtidal habitats and associated biological taxa in San Francisco Bay. NOAA Santa Rosa Office.

8. Factolex. 2013 Gracilaria. http://en.factolex.com/Gracilaria:algae_red

9. Ho, Emily. "Recipe: Red Ogo Seaweed Recipes." theKitchn. Apartment Therapy, 06 Aug 2008. Web. 13 Aug 2013. <http://www.thekitchn.com/la-farmers-market-report-seawe-58761>. 

10. "Red Ogo Seaweed Information and Facts." Specialty Produce. Specialty Produce, 03 Sep 2011. Web. 13 Aug 2013. <http://www.specialtyproduce.com/index.php?item=195>.

11. Hawai’I Foods: Nutrition with Aloha. 2013. “Seaweed, Ogo”. University of Hawari’I at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. http://hawaiifoods.hawaii.edu/facts.asp?id=128110&sid=0

12. Specialty produce. 2013. Red ogo seaweed. http://www.specialtyproduce.com/index.php?item=195