Mermaid’s Wineglass

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Chlorophyta
Class: Dasycladophyceae
Genus: Acetabularia
Species: Acetabularia acetabulum

Have you ever wondered what kind of glasses Atlanteans drank their wine from? I mean, they were Greek, so they had to love wine. Am I right, Dionysus? Would you say that they’d drink from a Mermaid’s Wineglass?

I know, I know that was a terrible lead in but for some reason I couldn’t resist!

No, Atlanteans would not have drunk wine out of Acetabularia acetabulum (Mermaid’s Wineglass) because the whole species is a little over an inch tall. Though if they could have, that would be the ultimate recyclable glassware—or would that be grassware?

Okay, seriously, I’ll stop.

Mermaid’s wineglass is not a grass, it’s a species of algae that can be found in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa, and in the Indian Ocean. Their preferred habitat is around shallow subtidal rocks submerged in water that’s about 50−77°F, so you can spot them if you’re off diving in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mermaid’s wineglass is aptly named because it’s shaped like a crude wine glass. The stem on the wineglass appears white, kept standing by the encrusting calcium carbonate on the outside, and a small cup like structure sits at the top. This single-celled alga reproduces by creating cysts in the cup. Once the individual dies and everything else decays, the cysts are released into the water to find a nice, dark place to sit for a bit. After napping for a time, they begin to germinate and grow more wineglasses.

I couldn’t find much more information on this species. I mistook it for a different alga that I came across while diving in Jamaica for one of my college courses. The alga I was thinking of is actually called Mermaid’s Tea Cup, which I’ll talk about in a future post.

There is more than one style of wineglass in the Mermaid line, and you can get it in white or green!

In the Atlantic around Florida and the Caribbean, there are two species of Mermaid Wineglasses. Honestly, they look very similar to me but are different for sure on the genetic level. There’s the White Mermaid’s Wineglass (Acetabularia crenulata) and the Green Mermaid’s Wineglass (Acetabularia caliculus) both of which have the same general shape as Acetabularia acetabulum but have different colors. A.caliculus is greener than A. acetabulum.

Sources:
Ocean: The Definitive Visual Guide made by the American Museum of Natural History
Reef Coral Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas 3rd edition by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach

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