The air bladders keep the fronds of the wrack in illuminated waters, where it is able to photosynthesise (3). In exposed areas, it is beneficial for the wrack to lack bladders, as this decreases the potential for severe damage, and minimises the risk of it being detached and swept away (3).
Bladder wrack may live for up to three years. There are separate male and female plants, and reproduction takes place once a year (2). Sex cells are produced in structures known as 'receptacles' located at the tips of the fronds. Eggs and sperm are released simultaneously into the water; the eggs release a pheromone that attracts the sperm (4), and fertilisation occurs externally. The fertilised egg settles to the substrate where it becomes attached after just a few hours (2).
Bladder wrack provides shelter for a number of marine species, including the tubeworm Spirobis spirobis, various isopods, and snails (2). It has been harvested by humans for use as a food source, and in various health products (2).