Most of us have heard the term algae used when we see that slimy green goo caked on rocks along the beach, or when we see a mold-like muck in the water of an outdoor Jacuzzi that’s overdue for a clean. You may have even heard of them in the news, with headlines reading “Dangerous algal bloom appears off the coast”. But what actually are algae? Are they plants? Fungi? Is it even alive or just some kind of aquatic debris that collects over time? And what purpose could they possibly serve?
Hidden within Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City, lives the axolotl. With a collar made of gills and a paddle-like tail, this slow, slimy creature spends its days swimming along the lake floor, sucking up insects that come into its path. With its alien body and blank stare, this under water critter has been capturing the hearts of budding biologists and animal enthusiasts for decades. But what actually is an axolotl, and does it warrant all the hype it receives?