Laguna Beach Walkers Walk the Wrack.
Definition: Perhaps from Middle Dutch, wrak,wreckage; the term corresponds to Old English wraec Wrack. Hence the term “Wrack and Ruin”
What is Wrack? It’s the common name for several species of seaweed (mega algae) when it washes ashore having broken away from the Kelp Forest under the sea after storms or winter swells in Laguna. The wrack zone is part of the shore just above the mean high tide where kelp is deposited on the sand – this is wrack. Laguna Beach’s Giant Kelp Wrack is called Macrocystis pyrifera – got it?!
We love Wrack. So much life goes on in wrack on our beaches that we feel it’s like a treasure trove of washed up seaweed salvage. We walk amongst the Winter and Spring wrack like an obstacle course enjoying the spongy beds as we clamber by, looking for animal life. Thousands of invertebrates live in the holdfast. Do you see the Brittle Sea Star holding on to the holdfast (foot) of the wrack in the photos?
Wrack use: It was dried to be used as fuel during the winter, for human consumption, animal feed, fertilizer, glass production, iodine and now for bio-fuel. The Irish used it as fertilizer to grow their precious potatoes. Amazing stuff!
It’s work for the City of Laguna Beach though. Wrack has critters and birds and lots of strong, ocean smells with flies galore in it – bird-yummy. Understandably, Main Beach is bulldozed of most of its latent wrack in the summer because of the tourists. Rather than bulldozing, Crystal Cove lets it lie and the tides eventually take the wrack back out to sea for more food and habitat for our marine birds and critters. Talk about great recycling! Thank you Crystal Cove.
More than 800 species rely on kelp forests, and we are one of them!
Homage to the Kelp and Hail to the wrack!