Important note: There are numerous laws that pertain to the collection of specimens. Collecting may not be allowed, or permits may be required for many locations, both local and foreign . It is your responsibility to be aware of and adhere to these rules. Museums now routinely require copies of collecting permits or documentation of adherence to regulations for the accession of specimens.
The majority of benthic macroalgal specimens collected for the U.S. National Herbarium have been gathered by hand in the intertidal zone, or subtidally by the use of SCUBA. While nets, bottom grabs, and other devices have long been used to sample algae occurring below the water surface, the recent advent of SCUBA and deep-sea submersibles now allows scientists to explore the subtidal environment firsthand. The use of both SCUBA and submersibles by Smithsonian Institution scientists has yielded discoveries that have expanded our knowledge of algal species and their biology. Specimens may also be collected from ships by mechanical means such as bottom grabs, dredges and nets, or by submersibles fitted with claws, grabs or suction devices.
Further information about equipment and techniques may be found in the "References" section of this discussion. A good overview is given in:
- Tsuda, Roy T. and Isabella A. Abbott. 1985. Collection, handling, preservation and logistics, pp. 67-68. In: Littler, M.M. and Littler, D.S. (eds.), Ecological Field Methods: Macroalgae. Handbook of Phycological Methods. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, 617 pp.
Whatever method of collection is used, the staff of the U.S. National Herbarium prefers to sort the collection by taxa while still in the field. The specimens are then preserved in separate pastic whirl-Pak bags into which waterproof labels have been inserted which is then placed in a light-proof shipping container (liqua-pac). A field notebook is maintained that details the location of the collection site (including latitude and longitude, plus depth), and how the specimen was collected and any pertinent environmental and ecological information