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A BBC anchor profusely apologized after an environmentalist corrected him on-air Friday for using the offensive term “seaweed” when referring to “marine algae.”
English naturalist Chris Packham asked Radio 4 “Today” host Amol Rajan to not use the common nickname when talking about the ocean plant that has recently swamped a beach on the southwestern coast of the UK.
“I’ll politely last ask you to mind your language. Can we call it marine algae rather than seaweed? The weed word puts it at an immediate disadvantage, doesn’t it?” Packham, who presents the BBC show “Springwatch,” said.
Rajan interrupted his guest to extend his apologies.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. And that’s important because I actually looked it up and I still got it wrong,” the host said.
The wrist-slap came after the host told viewers that “a mass of noisome seaweed is causing a huge stink” in the beautiful seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, forcing bathers to wade through a “carpet of magnetic kelp.”
Another guest on the show and a frequent visitor to the Weymouth beach said she had tried to swim through the algae in recent weeks, but was so offended by the smell that she drove to another beach some 40 miles away.
Packham said that those complaining about the stink need to “get a grip” and should focus on the importance of the sea algae — which acts as an oxygen producer, a fish breeding ground and a vital link in the oceanic food chain, particularly along the UK coast.
The conservationist said the recent swarm of marine algae on the UK’s beaches will only be a temporary issue and can be blamed on unseasonal winds.
“Frankly, when you think of the crisis that we’re in in terms of the environment and our biodiversity, we ought to be focusing on the bigger issues and when people turn up in Weymouth complain about a small marine algae slick, I ask them to turn their eyes to Canada, which is on fire and covering most of the United States with noxious fumes,” Packham said.
“So you know, let’s get a grip and, and tolerate nature … People love nature in the UK when it’s not an inconvenience to them, but the minute that they are slipping over a few forms of algae, everyone’s up in arms.”
Despite lambasting Rajan for using the offensive term, Packham referred to the kelp as seaweed while uring beachgoers to take their children to the beach in spite of the algae piles.
“Get them popping the pneumatocysts on the bladderwrack. Get them slipping and sliding over that seaweed because it can be great fun and recognize that this material plays a global role,” he said.
Rajan did not correct Packham for using the slur.