|Pacific rockweed (Fucus distichus) in Olympic National Park|
Brown algae are a large group of algae. They are classified as heterokont protists because they are neither plant nor animal. All the brown algae are multicellular, composed of more than one cell. Most brown algae have fucoxanthin, a chemical that gives them a brown color.
There are 2000 species of brown algae. Most species live in the ocean. They are important as food and as homes for many animals and marine life. Some brown algae are gathered by humans for food. The giant kelp Macrocystis is a brown alga that forms underwater forests, and it may grow to 60 meters. The Sargasso Sea gets its name from the Sargassum seaweed that floats on the surface. Sargassum is also a brown alga. Many brown algae grow on rocks at the seashore.
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