Vanvoorstia bennettiana

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Bennett's seaweed
Vanvoorstia bennettiana.jpg
Claudea bennettiana (Vanvoorstia bennettiana) by William Henry Harvey

Extinct  (late 19th century) (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
(unranked): Archaeplastida
Division: Rhodophyta
Class: Florideophyceae
Order: Ceramiales
Family: Delesseriaceae
Genus: Vanvoorstia
Species: V. bennettiana
Binomial name
Vanvoorstia bennettiana
(Harvey) Papenfuss (1855)

Claudea bennettiana
Sonderia bennettiana

Vanvoorstia bennettiana (Bennett's seaweed) is an extinct red alga from Australia. It is named after naturalist George Bennett. [1]


Vanvoorstia bennetiana was a small red alga. Like other members of its genus, V. bennettiana did not have significant differences in morphology throughout any phase of its life cycle.[2] It can be distinguished from other members of its genus by its small size and by the structure of its reproductive organs.[3] The overall structure of the alga is that of a blade with fine meshing.[3] For much of the time it was extant, the alga was common.[4]

The alga has only been found in two localities; both in or near Sydney Harbour. One was near the eastern part of Spectacle Island, where it was discovered between May 1 and May 15, 1855.[5] The other was in a channel between Point Piper and Shark Island,[5] where numerous specimens were collected in 1886.[6]


Since the V. bennettiana's discovery, Sydney Harbour has been massively altered by human activities. These activities substantially increased the siltation level in Sydney Harbour. Fine-meshed alga species are especially vulnerable to this type of disturbance because the particulate matter can often clog the blade and prevent light necessary for photosynthesis from reaching the organism.[3]

A search by Arthur Lucas in 1916 failed to find the species. Since it had been only found in two places, V. bennettiana became extinct by then. The causes were human disturbance, habitat destruction, and pollution.[5] Searches along the entire coastline of New South Wales failed to locate the species.[4]

Vanvoorstia bennettiana was, until an update in 2007, the only protist anywhere on the IUCN's Red List.[7]


  1. ^ William Henry Harvey: Phycologia Australica; or a History of Australian Seaweeds Volume 2. Lovel Reeve, London, 1859
  2. ^ Department of the Environment and Water Resources (2007-02-17). "Vanvoorstia bennettiana (Bennetts Seaweed), a marine red alga". Government of Australia. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  3. ^ a b c "Bennetts Seaweed" (PDF). primefacts. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. March 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-10. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b Andrew Sanger. "Vanvoorstia bennettiana - (Bennetts Seaweed)" (PDF). Fisheries Scientific Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 18, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  5. ^ a b c "Vanvoorstia bennettiana". IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. IUCN. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  6. ^ M.D. Guiry (2004-09-24). "Vanvoorstia bennettiana". AlgaeBase. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  7. ^ "Search Results". Retrieved 2007-07-10. [dead link]

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