Porpoise – (peilig) – Phocoena phocoena
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The Harbour Porpoise is one of six species of porpoise. It is one of the smallest ocean mammals in the sea. As its name implies, it stays close to coastal areas or river estuaries and as such is the most familiar porpoise. It is about 67-85 cm (26-33 in) long at birth. Both sexes grow up to be 1.4 m to 1.9 m (4.6-6.2 ft). The females are correspondingly heavier, with a maximum weight of around 76 kg (167 pounds) compared with the males' 61 kg (134 pounds). The body is robust and the animal is at its maximum girth just in front of its triangular dorsal fin. The beak is poorly demarcated. The flippers, dorsal fin, tail fin and back are a dark grey. The sides are a slightly speckled lighter grey. The underside is much whiter, though there are usually grey stripes running along the throat from the underside of the mouth to the flippers. Harbour Porpoises can live up to 25 years.
Mussel - (feusgan)
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Mussel is a loose and inaccurate term, but it has historically been applied to those families of clams where the shell is longer than it is wide, being wedge-shaped or asymmetrical-looking, and where the external colour of the shell is dark blue or brown, as opposed to the more globular lighter-coloured families of bivalves. Mussels can be smoked, boiled, steamed or fried in batter. As for all shellfish, mussels should be alive just before they are cooked because they quickly become toxic after they die.
Limpet – (bàirneach)
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Limpet is a common name used for many kinds of saltwater or freshwater snails, specifically those that have a simple shell which is more or less broadly conical in shape, and which is either not coiled, or appears not to be coiled, in the adult snail. The word "limpet" is a very inexact name which is fairly frequently encountered as part of the common name of a wide variety of different marine and freshwater gastropod species, some of which have gills and some of which have a lung. Limpets have flattened, cone-shaped shells, and the majority of species are commonly found adhering strongly to rocks or other hard substrates, looking like little bumps on the surface. In life, many limpet shells are often covered in microscopic growths of green marine algae, which can make them even harder to see, as they can closely resemble the rock surface itself. The majority of limpet species have shells that are less than 3 in (8 cm) in maximum length and many are much smaller than that. You can download a recipe for limpet stovies here.
Common Gull – (faoileag) – Larus canus
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Gulls are not soley birds of the coast and a surprising number are found in the uplands. The common gull has a pale grey back and a white head, with a plain face and gentle expression. Click play on the sound clip below to hear gulls calling.
Sea lettuce - Ulva lactuca
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Ulva lactuca is a thin flat green alga growing from a discoid holdfast. The margin is somewhat ruffled and often torn. It may reach 18 cm or more long though generally much less and up to 30 cm across. The membrane is two cells thick, soft and translucent, and grows attached, without a stipe, to rock via a small disc-shaped holdfast. It is one of the more pleasant seaweeds served raw, especially chopped, and served Japanese style, with soy sauce and rice vinegar. It has also been used to dress burn wounds.
Bladder WrackFucus vesiculosus
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Fucus vesiculosus is a very variable alga. It can grow to 100 cm or more and is easily recognised by the small gas–filled vesicles which occur in pairs on either side of a central midrib running along the centre of the strap–like frond. It was the original source of iodine, discovered in 1811, and was extensively used to treat goitre, a swelling of the thyroid gland, related to iodine deficiency. It has also been used to treat "rheumatic of the knee". Bladder wrack could be thrown onto the open peat fire only to explode and wake a sleeping grandparent. This species can be washed, simmered in a little water and served as a green vegetable. It has been added to chicken feed to prodce thicker eggshells and yellower yolks. Recently it has been made into an ale but has also been produced as tea, fodder, manure and soap.
Dulse - Palmaria palmata
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Dulse grows attached by its discoid holdfast to the stipes of Laminaria or to rocks. It has a short stipe, the fronds are very variable and vary in colour from deep-rose to reddish-purple and are rather leathery in texture. The flat foliose blade gradually expands and divides into broad segments ranging in size to 50 cm long and 30 - 8 cm in width which can bear flat wedge-shaped proliferations from the edge. It can be eaten raw as a good source of vitamins and minerals but is often grazed by sheep and cattle. It was commonly eaten with oatmeal in the form of a thick broth (càl duilisg) or simply boiled and served with pepper and butter. It can be roasted in a fire and then smothered in vinegar. Dried it could be chewed like tobacco. It was applied to wounds like plasters, used to expel intestinal worms, a fever remedy, for expelling afterbirth, for sprains, a cure–all for both humans and animals.
Purple Laver / Sloke –(slabhagan) – Porphyra umbilicalis
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Purple laver has broad, tough, thin irregular purple fronds approximately 20cm across. It is greenish when young and becomes purplish red. Purple laver can be reduced in boiling water until it becomes a paste. It can then be used as an accompaniment for lamb. It is easily digestible due to its low cellulose content and is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B, amino acids and minerals. It would be turned to jelly with leeks and onions and eaten alone or with oatcakes or bannocks. You can download a recipe for Seaweed soup here. Sloke was utilised in the treatment of sprains and to cure constipation.
Cowslip - Primula veris
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Cowslip is a low growing herbaceous perennial plant with deep yellow flowers being produced in the spring. They have been used in brewing ale, flavouring vinegar, salads and sugared as sweets. It has also been used as a diuretic and for the treatment of headaches, whooping cough and other conditions.