Diseased algae have always been around, but finding one of them in the wild is mostly a chance encounter. Often, the eye of beach-walkers is drawn by seaweeds with an unusual aspect (deformed growth, discolouration, galls, holes or rot symptoms, etc…), but such encounters usually go unreported. “My seaweed looks weird” was a platform developed during the GlobalSeaweedSTAR programme that would allow anyone to contribute weird-, or sad-looking seaweeds to accelerate research. With the marine environment undergoing very rapid changes worldwide, and in particular cultivation growing rapidly, we aimed to gather a baseline of what diseases occur where, both in the wild and in seaweed farms, in order to be able to detect and monitor any changes.
Our aim was to accelerate the description of algal diseases worldwide, by screening samples submitted by scientists, seaweed professionals or members of the public. We used the data to identify and map diseases, as well as describe novel or emerging issues. Many of the results of this work are or will be available for free, through Open Access publications.
We have provided here a few examples of the many types of diseases that affect seaweeds globally. We have really appreciated all the seaweed samples and photographs that have been sent to us over the last 4 years and hope that future funding will be secured to support the continuation of this portal or others like it.