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I am currently doing a science project on natural oil seeps and their effect on kelp. Though I am not finished with my experiment, I have counted bryozoans and found that petroleum kelp contained these colonies, whereas the non-petroleum kelp did not. Basically I have found that petroleum does not affect the kelp because the petroleum does not stick to the kelp, like it does to so many other organisms. My question: why does the petroleum not affect the kelp, what does the kelp have to make the petroleum not stick to it when the petroleum sticks to feathers and kayak paddles?
Question Date: 2004-05-22
Answer 1:

The petroleum does not stick to the kelp because of the mucilage that kelp produces. We refer to the mucilage as an "antifouling" agent, which means it prevents a lot of organisms, especially bacteria, but also oil products, from adhering to the blades. Some kelp, like Macrocystis, produce a lot of mucilage, while other kelp do not. That is an interesting finding that you observed bryozoans on kelp from petroleum areas but not the non-petroleum; you might have the basis for some new research!

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