We can all look at the surface of the sea and be amazed by the blue, silver, white and other colours as the waves pulse through it and the sun and sky reflects on it but not many of ever get to see the beauty that exists below the surface. The best most of us can hope for is a glimpse of what lies below from what has been washed ashore and left on the tide strand line. Walk along the sandy beach at Studland and you will find an array of sea shells and sea weeds that give you a glimpse of what like is like in the water.
Amongst the sea weeds you will find this delicately coloured sea weed, fan weed (Callophyllis laciniata). In the water it varies in colour from bright pink to dark red and even brown. In the air those dominant colour fade into more subtle shades. On the beach it displays an iridescent colouring that is not seen under water. Fan weed grows attached to other sea weeds, such as kelp, and often you will find it with its host on the beach. It is not parasitic, it just seems to find it easier to anchor itself by a thin thread to other weeds that try to find a foothold in the sand or on rock. It is common all round the British Isles in clear water to about 30 metres deep.