Saccharina latissima is a brown algae (class Phaeophyceae), of the family Laminariaceae. It is known by the common name sugar kelp, and also sea belt  and Devil's apron, due to its shape. It is found in the north east Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Barents Sea south to Galicia in Spain. It is not found in the Bay of Biscay but is common round the coasts of the British Isles. The species is found at sheltered rocky seabeds.
Saccharina latissima is a yellowish brown colour with a long narrow, undivided blade that can grow to 5 metres (16 ft) long and 20 centimetres (7.9 in) wide. The central band is dimpled while the margins are smoother with a wavy edge. The frond is attached to the rock by stout rhizoids about 5 mm in diameter in the intertidal and sublittoral zones by a claw-like holdfast and a short, pliable, cylindrical stipe.
Saccharina latissima is an ecologically important system. It is a primary producer, delivering plant material to the coastal food web. The three-dimensional forests also serve as a habitat for animals, resulting in a high biodiversity. Fish, shellfish and other animals get food and hiding places within these forests.
In 2004, scientists reported a loss in sugar kelp of up to 80% at Skagerrak and 40% at the West coast of Norway. The reasons for this loss are not fully understood, but the increase in ocean temperature, high levels of nutrients and the reduction in animal species feeding off the filamentous algae are suggested as the most likely reasons.
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- Bekkby, T., Moy, F. 2011. Developing spatial models of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) potential distribution modelling of the kelp species Laminaria hyperborea. ICES Journal of Marine Science 66: 2106–2115.
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- Bekkby, T., Moy, F. 2011. Developing spatial models of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) potential distribution modelling of the kelp species Laminaria hyperborea. ICES Journal of Marine Science 66: 2106–2115
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