A previously unknown species of red algae or Rhodophyta has been discovered in Iceland. According to a press release from the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, the species was first found just before 1900 on the country’s west coast but was misidentified. It has now been proven to be a formerly unknown species with its closest relatives in the North Pacific.
The algae, which has been named Schizymenia jonssonii in memory of Icelandic phycologist Sigurður Jónsson, is bladelike and can grow to about 35cm (13.7in) long and 10-25cm (3.9-9.8in) wide. It is relatively common near the southwest and west coast of Iceland, along the Northwest peninsula, and has been found at one location along the colder north coast.
“The eastern North Atlantic is probably the best-studied ocean area in the world due to a long history of intensive scientific research in northern Europe,” the press release reads. “It was, therefore, a surprise that this relatively large and conspicuous species had not been identified before.”
MFRI is currently experimenting with growing the algae as a food supplement in collaboration with Hyndla ehf.