‘It’s a miracle crop’: the pioneers pushing the powers of seaweed

The Guardian 8/26/21


Kelp can clean New York’s polluted waters, tackle climate change and is sustainable – but growers need a law change first

Motoring out of Montauk Harbor aboard a research vessel, Sean Barrett waves hello to a commercial fishing boat, yelling “What up, Jay! Any slipper snails in there?”

It is a crisp, sunny day – the kind that brings tourists to Montauk, a small fishing village at the end of Long Island, New York. Although the town is better-known as a resort destination, it is the state’s largest commercial fishing port, only one of two major ports that are still in operation.

More than 10 years ago, Barrett, 46, created Dock to Dish, the nation’s first restaurant-supported fishery – essentially an alternative model for selling seafood sustainably where members pay a fee for a share of a local catch.

A commercial fishing dock in Montauk, New York. Montauk is the state’s largest commercial fishing port.
A commercial fishing dock in Montauk, New York. Montauk is the state’s largest commercial fishing port. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

More recently he has been focusing on the bottom of the ocean food chain and a different kind of marine life: kelp. Earlier this year, he founded the Montauk Seaweed Supply Co and today the Guardian is accompanying him as he travels out to look at native seaweeds at nearby Fort Pond.

In his new venture, Barrett has been mindful of the Indigenous uses of seaweed as a fertilizer, and devised a kelp-based soil amendment that home gardeners and golf courses can use on their plants rather than chemical-laden fertilizers. Describing kelp as the “ocean’s first regenerative crop”, Barrett believes that by localizing seaweed production in New York he can revive the stymied maritime industry.

“Seafood import rates in the US are around 90%. Seaweed is more than 94%. We try to bring it all back to being more local,” said Barrett. He adds that most seafood and seaweed products go through upwards of 15 purveyors, and that he is trying “to get that chain of custody down to three hands: a farmer, the company and a consumer”.

But there’s just one catch: it is illegal to farm seaweed in New York state, despite activists’ best efforts.

Alaska and Maine are currently the leading seaweed producers in the US as both states allow seaweed farming. Meanwhile, New York is struggling to keep up, with growers losing yet another season as they await a law change. Although the Kelp Bill passed the state’s legislature in June, it still needs to be signed into law by New York’s governor. The recent resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo has activists worried about further delay.

Sean Barrett, the founder of Montauk Seaweed Supply Company, holds freshly harvested sugar kelp.
Sean Barrett is the founder of Montauk Seaweed Supply Company, a company that processes and distributes raw kelp. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

In addition to bolstering the state’s floundering maritime industries, the brown, fibrous sea vegetable is effective at absorbing carbon, in addition to fighting ocean acidification. Scientists at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Red Sea Research Center estimate that coastal habitats and wetlands absorb five times more carbon than terrestrial forests.

This is a critical measure as the globe’s temperatures are likely to rise more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, according to the recent International Panel on Climate Change Report, stemming in large part from excess carbon in the atmosphere.

“Sugar kelp offers scientists another tool in the tool box to address issues with climate change [relating] to increasing carbon,” said Dr Charles Yarish, of the University of Connecticut, a seaweed biologist.

The US has more than 95,000 miles (154,000km) of coastline – the second most in the world – and Yarish believes that it could become the leading producer of the ocean’s first-ever regenerative crop. He envisions that this could be achieved by creating large-scale farms in the US’s exclusive economic zone, whichextends 200 nautical miles offshore. Kelp is “scalable”, Yarish added.

Jason Havelin, dressed in dive gear, harvests knotted wrack, sargassum and rockweeds from Fort Pond Bay in Montauk, New York. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

There are also big potential benefits in tackling pollution.

The drinking water on eastern Long Island is some of the most nitrogen-loaded groundwater in the country, ranking in the top 5%. Most of this pollution stems from outdated septic systems, which have also contributed to nearly 60% of nutrient loading on Long Island’s Peconic estuary.

Local officials are trying to convince homeowners to replace thousands of systems – but seaweed could boost these efforts. “If everyone’s homes got upgraded today, the contaminated groundwater that was created yesterday is still creeping towards the bays and estuaries,” said Dr Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University. Working with Stony Brook labs on a three-year experiment on ocean acidification, carbon drawdown and nitrogen extraction of seaweeds, Gobler’s lab found that one acre of kelp farm over six months of propagation is equivalent to replacing 10–20 older septic systems each year.

Although scientists are elated about kelp’s capacity as a carbon sink, the atmosphere only nets a benefit if the kelp is harvested and used. If the seaweed stays in the sea it disintegrates in the summer sun, releasing the carbon and nitrogen it has absorbed from the ocean to dissolve back into the water.

Enter: kelp as food.

Many consumers are already familiar with nori seaweed in sushi rolls, and seaweed salads, but there is a widening interest in kelp from top chefs, and health food grocery stores stocking products such as kelp cubes which can be added to scones or pasta sauces, cookies or soups.

Akua debuted a kelp burger earlier this year, and it had many climate activists thinking this could be the new shift.

Their original products like a kelp jerky tasted “earthy” or kelp noodle for “diehard” fans of the sea vegetable, said CEO Courtney Boyd Myers. A seaweed fan herself, Courtney loved the products, but knew it wasn’t “moving the needle” for investors. Now, with a kelp burger that was heavily beta-tested during quarantine, they are selling about $80,000 a month and are on track to garner $1m in sales this year, said Boyd Myers. The company sources most of their kelp from Maine farmers.

“People want to know how their food is produced, where it is coming from and how they can eat to support the right kind of agriculture,” said Dan Barber, 51, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill restaurants and author of The Third Plate, who is a prominent supporter of Sean Barrett’s work. “Kelp becomes an obvious go-to. That is an important moment.”

Barber, who has been a leader in the slow food movement since his book on the future of food, sees kelp as the culinary world’s next kale or cauliflower, as high-end chefs, such as Victoria Blamey who recently had a residency at Barber’s restaurant Blue Hill incorporate the seaweed into their menu. Acknowledging the Indigenous cultural roots of the vegetable, Barber believes that eating lower on the food chain is one of the best ways that consumers can eat sustainably.

“How does what we eat affect the world around us? With kelp, it is a slight net positive,” said Bri Warner, president of Atlantic Sea Farms, the Maine company which became the nation’s first commercial seaweed farm in 2009.

Sean Barrett holds out a sample of RegenSea, finely milled kelp meal fertilizer.
Sean Barrett holds out a sample of RegenSea, finely milled kelp meal fertilizer. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

Describing kelp as “truly regenerative”, Warner points out that “it is a miracle crop in many ways. It doesn’t use fresh water. It doesn’t use land. It doesn’t need fertilizer.”

Atlantic Sea Farms works with 24 partner farms, making up more than 95% of Maine’s line-grown seaweed supply. Since 2018, they have grown 12,000% in supply, with their products such as a kelp seaweed cube being sold in 350 Sprouts grocery stores across the country or their fermented seaweed salad sold in Whole Foods, according to Warner.

Fisherman Bob Baines with kelp on his boat, the FV Thrasher.
‘I'm not a quitter’: lobstermen turn to kelp farming in the face of climate crisis
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Their business focus is around securing these kinds of supply deals. “Kelp is not like lobster … There are a million buyers for lobster,” said Greg Perkins, a Maine lobsterman turned kelp grower for Atlantic Sea Farms. “There are not a whole lot of buyers for kelp.” That is why deals such as the ones with Sprouts and Whole Foods are so important. “If you didn’t have that guaranteed market I don’t know if I would be one to do it.”

Perkins, 31, estimates it cost him about $6,000 to $7,000 to enter the kelp business, with most of that investment covering expenses such as moorings, buoys and line. Perkins, who farms in Penobscot Bay, Maine, originally got into kelp aquaculture as a way to supplement his lobstering and crabbing businesses, which remain his main source of income.

In the next five years, Atlantic Sea Farms plans to triple its kelp supply, working with more growers, like Perkins. The Gulf of Maine is warming 99% faster than any other waters in the United States, so Atlantic Sea Farms – and their farmers – see the importance of scaling as quickly as possible.

On the other coast of the US, Alaska’s kelp food industry is also booming.

Kelp “is a perfectly circular tube. When you slice it, it makes the aesthetically beautiful pickle ring,” said Matt Kern, 34, of Alaska-based Barnacle Foods. With partner Lia Heifetz, Kern started Barnacle Foods after making bull kelp salsa – a homesteading recipe – on failed fishing trips, filling their empty buckets up with wild bull kelp on their way back to shore. What began as a passion project quickly grew to an obsession and by 2016 they were selling kelp salsas and sauces across Alaska. Now, they are on track to produce around 250,000 units of product, a number that has doubled year over year since 2019, said Kern.

Members of the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers, clockwise from top left, Tela Sasweena “She Shall Harvest” Troge, Darlene Mishannock “Morning Star” Troge, Waban Neetskeh “Healing Wind” Tarrant, Danielle Munnannock “First Born Star” Hopson Begun, and Rebecca Genia.
Members of the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers, clockwise from top left, Tela Sasweena ‘She Shall Harvest’ Troge, Darlene Mishannock ‘Morning Star’ Troge, Waban Neetskeh ‘Healing Wind’ Tarrant, Danielle Munnannock ‘First Born Star’ Hopson Begun, and Rebecca Genia. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

Seaweed for food and fertilizer is not a new idea. For thousands of years it was eaten and used on crops by coastal communities worldwide. Charter agreements between early settlers in the United States and Indigenous peoples on the east coast mentioned seaweed rights while tribes in the Pacific north-west used seaweed as insulation.

On Heady Creek, 30 miles (48km) west of Montauk, the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers just pulled out their first-ever kelp lines in 2021, as part of their initiative to raise seaweed for fertilizer in the waters surrounding the Shinnecock tribal territory. Working with Bren Smith of GreenWave, a non-profit dedicated to regenerative ocean farming and an early pioneer of kelp, the group comprises six women. Their goal is to fight climate change and clean their water, while using a traditional crop.

“Shinnecock has been so connected to the seaweed industry … we really think that kelp is a solution to climate change”, as well as environmental degradation of waterways, said Tela Troge, 34, the tribe’s lawyer. “I grew up on Heady Creek. When I was a kid, there were all kinds of things living there. Now you are lucky if you see a couple of dead fish. It is really a scary situation. It is real for us.”

And while other seaweed farmers in New York are circumscribed by regulations, the Shinnecock operate as a sovereign nation and can farm seaweed without the Kelp Bill passing. They plan on ramping up production in fall, seeding 10 times more lines than previously. For Barrett’s Montauk Seaweed Supply, their farming initiative could be his golden ticket.

Waban Neetskeh “Healing Wind” Tarrant, a member of the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers, assesses where the collective’s kelp lines go in the Shinnecock Bay.
Waban Neetskeh ‘Healing Wind’ Tarrant, a member of the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers, assesses where the collective’s kelp lines go in the Shinnecock Bay. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

Out on Fort Pond, Barrett listens to Stephen Schott, marine botany and habitat restoration educator at Cornell Cooperative, discuss the myriad ways seaweed extractions are already in use, showing up as a thickening agents in ice cream or even chocolate milk. Ever the entrepreneur, Barrett then organizes a photo shoot with native rockweeds on the boat’s deck for his company’s Instagram page, before launching into a discussion of how resort destinations in Montauk end up in user-conflict fights with Bonackers, the name for local fishermen. Pointing along the hilly skyline laden with greenery, Barrett details how fish traps in front of the popular Navy Beach eatery created a dispute that Barrett was called in to mediate. Although he hopes to rejuvenate the region’s traditional maritime industries, he knows that will require working with aquaculture growers and tourist hotspots alike.

Later, back on the Montauk commercial docks, Barrett jumps off the research vessel with packets of his Sea to Soil kelp meal in hand. Seemingly at home among the fishy and salty smells of a working waterfront, Barrett speaks in Spanish to a dockhand before showing the commercial fisheries’ refrigeration rooms where kelp can be stored post-harvest.

Steve Schott, holds up sugar kelp harvested on Fishers Island.
Steve Schott, holds up sugar kelp harvested on Fishers Island. Photograph: Desiree Rios/The Guardian

Describing kelp as a “tricky” business, Barrett explains that the seaplant begins to ferment immediately after harvest, eventually exploding, unless quickly refrigerated. It is something Barrett has personal experience with, as he laughs and recounts a recent kelp explosion that left his Jeep Wrangler still smelling fishy.

Referring to the Maine kelp industry as the “north star”, Barrett sees kelp as a way to revive New York’s commercial fishing industry. “The east end of Long Island, over the past 50 years, intensively over the past 20, has transitioned from working waterfronts to high-end residential.

“My earliest memories on the planet are fishing on the Shinnecock canal when the locks closed,” said Barrett. “It has changed … when we’ve tried to re-introduce fishing infrastructure, people say, ‘not in my backyard’.”

As temperature records across the world break for another sweltering summer and the international climate change authorities task each country to reduce their carbon output, crops like kelp provide a possible way forward – for industry and environmentalists alike.

“You pay attention to your surroundings if you are fisherman or fisherperson … things have changed dramatically,” said Scott Lord, 39, a third-generation Maine lobsterman who also now farms kelp. “I really enjoy working with something that could make a difference. I do believe in that.”

World’s Largest Seagrass Project Proves “You Can Actually Restore the Oceans”

Reasons to be Cheerful 7/6/21


When Karen McGlathery used to swim in the coastal bays off Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the water would quickly turn cloudy and brown as sediment swirled around her. Now, 25 years later, for as far as she can swim, the water remains clear. The sediment is anchored in place by lush green seagrass meadows, teeming with fish, scallops, and crustaceans. “It’s like this beautiful underwater prairie,” says McGlathery. “It’s just gorgeous.” 

McGlathery, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia, is part of a team running the largest seagrass restoration project in the world in these coastal bays—and one of the most successful. The two-decade-long project is a “blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems,” according to a 2020 research paper, and proof that marine habitats can be brought back to life in a way that’s self-sustaining. 

In the 1930s, a wasting disease swept along the U.S. east coast, wiping out huge swaths of eelgrass. Where Virginia’s coastal bays used to be carpeted in this species of seagrass, suddenly they were barren. “Everyone thought that eelgrass could never, ever get back,” says Robert Orth, who was a marine biologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) until he retired this year, “but nobody really started doing any kind of experiments to see.” 

That changed in the late 1990s with the discovery of small patches of seagrass in the bay, the existence of which proved that conditions could once again support the plants. 

A volunteer working on Robert Orth’s seagrass restoration project. Photo from The Nature Conservancy.

Orth started with small-scale experiments, digging up adult seagrass from other areas and transplanting it into the bay. The seagrass survived, but the process wasn’t scalable—restoring thousands of acres through transplanting would have been a huge logistical challenge. So, says Orth, “We said, well, why not try to launch a restoration program using seeds?”

In 2001, he started an effort to physically rebuild the ocean ecosystem, seed by seed. From a moving boat, he and his team scattered seeds across four bays: South, Cobb, Spider Crab, and Hog Island. The seeds survived, growing into plants which, in turn, produced their own seeds. “Nature kind of took over,” says Orth. “While we continue to put seeds in areas that don’t have eelgrass, nature has been spreading eelgrass naturally.” 

This graph shows how seagrass has reestablished itself in the four targeted bays. Credit: Science Advances

Over the past 20 years, supported by an army of volunteers, the project team has sown nearly 75 million seeds. About 9,000 acres of coastal bays are now blanketed with eelgrass, which has improved water quality, increased marine biodiversity, and helped mitigate climate change by capturing and storing carbon.

The project is “game changing,” says Carlos Duarte, a seagrass expert and marine science professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, both in its sheer scale and the raft of long-term data it provides on the climate benefits of seagrass. 

A decade ago, Duarte and Orth nicknamed seagrass “the ugly duckling” of environmental conservation, because so few cared about it. That’s slowly changing as its huge benefits are recognized. Despite covering less than 0.2% of the ocean, it is responsible for about 10% of the ocean’s ability to store carbon. It provides a vital habitat for marine life, boosts commercial fishing, helps purify water, protects coastlines, and even traps and stores microplastics

But seagrass is also one of the most at-risk ecosystems, threatened by coastal development, nutrient runoff from agriculture and stormwater, and rising ocean temperatures. 

“I like to say these grasses are sort of the canary in the coal mine,” says Jill Bieri, the Virginia Coast reserve program director at The Nature Conservancy, who has been involved in the restoration for the past seven years. They will thrive if the water quality is good, and die off if it’s not. It’s a lesson for other coastal regions, says Chris Patrick, the VIMS professor who has taken over the project since Orth retired. “If you can fix the water quality issues, you can restore the grass very quickly, within a few decades.”

Restoration projects around the world are looking to Virginia for lessons. Richard Unsworth, associate professor of biosciences at Swansea University, is leading the U.K.’s biggest seagrass restoration project in the waters of Dale Bay in Pembrokeshire, Wales. “We’ve been using their science as a yardstick,” he says. So far, he and his team have planted more than 1 million seeds, but his ambitions are bolder. “We want to apply the techniques that they’re using [in Virginia] to rejuvenate the coastal seas of the U.K., at a similar scale, if not bigger.” 

Back in Virginia’s bays, the next phase of the project is to see whether they can convert the carbon stored in the seagrass meadows into carbon credits to raise money for further restoration. That’s where McGlathery’s work feeds in; the long-term research from the project has allowed her to calculate precise data about how much carbon the seagrass stores. The project is in the process of registering with Verra, a leading certifier of carbon credits. If successful, it will be the world’s first verified seagrass carbon offset program.

In the meantime, the team is working towards restoring every one of the coastal bays to the way they were before the wasting disease claimed the eelgrass. The project, says Unsworth, “is demonstrating to the world that you can actually restore the oceans.” While plenty of projects have restored coastal habitats such as mangroves and salt marshes, he adds, few have been able to restore the ecosystems that lie beneath the surface of the water. “It’s quite fundamental what they achieved.”

New opportunities for success loom off the coast of Maine

The Townline 04/17/19

Dave in Boat

Amidst the lobster traps, blue and barren berried rolling hills of Harrington, Maine, forager, artist and engineer Dave Olson is re-imagining the rockweed harvesting scene. The Downeast region is known for its diverse oceanic industries, from lobster trapping to wrinkling whelks. Another emerging enterprise, rockweed harvesting, has potential to bring long term viability to the working class of Washington County and is an industry often overlooked, under-utilized and inter-tidally submerged in controversy.

Dave Olson has been harvesting a living from natural resources for decades. In Alaska, he worked as a commercial salmon fisherman and briefly captained his own boat. Back east in Maine, he is seasonally harvesting periwinkles (wrinkling whelks), tipping spruce for wreaths, sheering island sheep and hunting or foraging nature’s bounty. More recently rockweed has caught his eye as having unique potential Downeast.

Ascophylum Nodosom, commonly referred to as rockweed, is an abundant resource in the Gulf of Maine. At the top end of the market it is used for animal feed. When added to feed, it is said to improve hoof strength, make healthier egg yolks and increase dairy yields. Recent research at UC Davis has even found that methane emissions from cows diminished by 30 percent when adding seaweed to their feed. Other research has shown emissions falling closer to 60 percent.

Typically, rockweed is harvested manually with cutter rakes from small boats or by expensive mechanical harvesters. Canadian owned Acadian Seaplants Limited (ASL), the largest seaweed company in the world, operates in Maine and utilizes both of these methods. Dave’s experiences and frustrations harvesting for ASL led him to engineer improvements on their system and to develop a new kind of boat.

This new boat is built around the notion of an independent harvester. It’s five feet longer with higher gunwales (sides). A hydraulic system powers offloading machinery and two rollers which assist with reeling in the loaded rake. Mechanical harvesters have been introduced into the industry, but they have significant drawbacks, including price. “The biggest difference between my boat and a mechanical harvester is that mine is a hell of a lot cheaper,” Dave says, and estimates that his new boat would be a third of the cost of a mechanical harvester, more fuel efficient and easier to maintain. He notes that a good manual harvester can make their wage in six hours while a mechanical harvester operator might need to put in ten. Additionally, he says, “They can work in worse weather conditions and through high tide by sending the cutter pumps deep under water.”

I asked him why he decided to build this boat. “It was clear from the first day that their operation was sloppy…and it was affecting my bottom line. Too much energy was being wasted on post-harvest handling because of inefficient machinery,” he says, and describes a system where harvesters rake weed into small boats, motor to a landing and then must wait in line for a clumsy offloading process. He could only work between the tides and this delay has often kept him from going back for more. He remarks, “There was money in the rockweed, I just needed a system that would allow me to make it.”

Traditionally, ocean resources are part of the public trust doctrine which sets these assets aside for public use. The adjoining land owners don’t pay taxes below the high water mark but have certain ownership rights in order to ‘wharf out.’ The Maine Supreme Court has recently weighed in on the matter of seaweed ownership, siding with property owners who believe it belongs to them. The court declared that the upland property owner had exclusive rights and harvesters would need permission to remove rockweed. I reached out to Dave after the decision came down. He was legitimately surprised, but says, “It won’t stop the industry; it will just change how it develops.” He also says that most landowners are glad to see him harvesting and only a minority would rather it be left alone.

The people of Washington County could use this good paying work as its residents earn 23 percent less than the average Mainer. According to Dave, the biggest limitation is the lack of landing sites. “You have to have a site that a tractor trailer can access and space to land 30 tons of seaweed in bags.” If Maine companies want to compete they will need to establish more infrastructure to process and package. Of the future, he says, “I am looking to expand into volume dehydration, which opens up global markets and adds a tremendous value per ton.”

It could be that the opportunity for residents to earn living wages and establish secure businesses lies just beyond the head of tide. These opportunities are by no means confined to our rocky coast line. As Dave puts it: “I think there is a very real potential for marine algae to play a role in carbon sequestration in the effort to fight climate change.”


An online series in 2021 to explore the resurgence of ancestral clam management practices.



Description of event 1: The purpose of this first webinar is to introduce the series and to co-create a vision for future webinars in this series that best serve coastal communities’ needs and priorities. We hope to reach people who harvest clams for FSC, for commercial reasons, and for fun. That is, we encourage anyone interested in clams to join in. No previous knowledge of clams or clam management is necessary!


Priority registration will be given to those who identify as First Nations / Native American and those who work for First Nations / Native American tribes.




Register here: https://uvic.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIvdeuprzwpHdNZjmVq6bEgB4fNzJ9Bw02T


DATMA’s free public art projects will examine the role of water within the histories, economies, and cultures of several countries as well as SouthCoast Massachusetts—from its geographic location and its wide-ranging fishing industry to the technologies of the 21st century providing new sources of energy while protecting the fragile ecology of the region. Four internationally recognized artists have been invited by DATMA to present work that will celebrate the essence of water and human beings’ traditional but changing relationship to it in addition to a host of extensive programming with partner organizations.

Exhibition 1Harvesters of the Deep: Portraits of Fisherwomen from South Korea, America, and the United Kingdom

Exhibition 2 – 315 prepared dc-motors, cotton balls, cardboard boxes 13″ x 13″ x 13″, 2011/2021

Exhibition 3Sea Scallops: Sentinels of the Deep


Online – Virtual Launch Event

The “WATER 2021” Virtual Launch Event will be co-hosted with 3rd EyE Unlimited, a non-profit where youth empowerment engage, unite, and activate the community through hip hop culture and mentorship to become transformative leaders. The event will feature dance performances by 3rd EyE Unlimited members and guest speakers, including New Bedford Poet Laurette Patricia Gomes’ debut of a new poem inspired by water, tours of DATMA’s exhibitions, and more. The event will be held on June 17, 2021 from 6 to 8 pm and is open to all. Sign up at www.DATMA.org.


Online – Harvesters of the Deep: Portraits of Fisherwomen from South Korea, America, and the United Kingdom

An expanded online collection from the portfolios of photographers Hyung S. Kim, Phil Mello, and Craig Easton will be available on www.DATMA.org during the 2021 program season.


Artist Talk and Online Documentary – Harvesters of the Deep: Portraits of Fisherwomen from South Korea, America, and the United Kingdom

Photographers Hyung S. Kim, Phil Mello, and Craig Easton will hold a series of talks to share the unique cultural stories about each respective subject matter plus an interactive Q&A segment. The events will also feature the Fishing Heritage Center, a resource for the people and families of the New Bedford fishing community. In addition, DATMA and the Fishing Heritage Center will present documentaries highlighting the “Herring Lassies,” Haenyeo Divers, and New Bedford fisher-workers. To be held throughout July 2021 with more information on www.DATMA.org.


Online – Virtual Walking Tour with the National Park Service Ranger Guide

Known as a gem of the National Park System and in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, park rangers have created an alternative opportunity for visitors to enjoy the park and explore the diverse park stories. With “WATER 2021” in mind, guests can take an in-person or virtual tour with the online ranger guide to learn about New Bedford while identifying the buildings in the city’s historic district at risk from sea level rise. Visit www.nps.gov/nebe/planyourvisit/guided-tours to take a virtual tour.


Exhibition – Artistic Interpretation of a Marine Heatwave

Dartmouth based artist Deborah Ehrens in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Scientists Dr. Caroline Ummenhofer and Dr. Svenja Ryan will create an artistic installation to represent how data from the past is being mined to better understand the current-day climate and the effects of marine heatwaves. From June 9 until June 23, 2021 at South Coast Surface Design in New Bedford and will feature window display for outdoor viewing.


Exhibition – More than a Job

The non-profit New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center will celebrate its 5th anniversary with the opening of a new permanent exhibit which will explore the themes of labor, immigration, sustainability, and significant digital storytelling as well as a focus on women’s roles in the fishing community. Four years in the making, the exhibit will also provide an introduction to the workings of the fishing industry with immersive experiences including a working deck, wheelhouse, and focsle. Opens June 25, 2021.


Exhibition – Women’s Work: At Sea, On Shore, At Home, In the Community

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center will shine a light on the many roles women play in commercial fishing communities through this exhibition and a series of public programs. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Women’s Fisheries Network, Mass Cultural Council and the New Bedford, Mattapoisett, and Westport Cultural Councils, programming will run now through December, 2021 and the exhibition will run from August 12 to December 31, 2021.


Exhibition – Tides and Time

For its 8th season, Seaport Art Walk will present a juried outdoor sculpture exhibition with the theme reflecting on the current ever-changing climate, whether that be the ocean, environment, economy, politics, or social justice. The exhibition will run from July 9 until October 17, 2021 along New Bedford’s working waterfront in the Seaport Cultural District.


Exhibition – Fractured Light

Paintings by local artist Michele Poirier-Mozzone will be featured with each piece taken by a waterproof GoPro filming subjects underwater. The freedom to explore unique angles and play with perspective, sometimes looking up at the model, captured natural movement and distortion from below the surface of the water. Paintings on view during August 2021 at The Drawing Room in downtown New Bedford with an artist talk on August 12, 2021.



Seaglass Theater Company will present The Lure of the Sea, a staged concert of classical repertoire that highlights the relationship of fishermen and women to the sea.  The concert features excerpts from Joseph Haydn’s Le Pescatrici (The Fishermen), Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, and Emilio Arrieta’s Marina. The repertoire will take place on August 26, 2021 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford.

Members from the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra will play a pop-up performance on the New Bedford waterfront with “WATER 2021” artwork as a backdrop. The performance will take place on July 8, 2021.

The New Bedford Youth Ballet will perform among Zimoun’s sculpture in the Swain Gallery as part of its end of season performance line-up. The performance will take place in July 2021.



The 25th anniversary of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park celebrates a quarter century of interpretation, preservation, and partnerships. In partnership with DATMA, the National Park Service will invite rangers who specialize in creating signage and info graphics for the nation’s National Parks to teach youth about communicating through design. The workshops will take place in September 2021. www.DATMA.org.


Join Greenhorn's project, Seaweed Commons, at Slow Fish 2021!
Severine v T Fleming will speak about protecting wild seaweed ecosystems amidst a growing industrial aquaculture industry, concerns around the over harvest of Rockweed in Maine, and coalition building within the wild-harvest community alongside other active and thoughtful leaders in the marine sector including our friend Amanda Swiminer of Dakini Tidal Wilds.
The panel they are participating in - Aquaculture Deep Dive Session - will take place on March 25 at 12:30-3:45 pm E.

Slow Fish 2021 is a collaborative gathering of fish harvesters, fishmongers, chefs, educators, researchers and advocates from across North America and beyond working to create more direct supply chains based on Slow Fish values of providing good, clean and fair seafood for all.

Register below. Scholarships are available #SlowFish2021

Workshop by Land Art Agency

In this workshop, you will learn how to develop film using seaweed which has a strong contrasty tone, with sustainable photography pioneer Melanie King.

Date And Time

Tue, 23 February 2021

10:30 – 12:30 PST

Using British admiralty charts from 1858-1956, research team has created digital map of coastal kelp

The Canadian Press ·

A serendipitous meeting between a professor and a colleague last year led to a treasure trove of historical maps that indicated kelp bed locations off British Columbia's coast, helping experts understand the changes in what are known as the "rainforests of the ocean."

Using those British admiralty charts from 1858 to 1956, Costa and her research team have now created the first historical digital map of B.C.'s coastal kelp forests.

They'll use the maps to further investigate the loss of the kelp beds in research supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Hydrographic Service and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, she said.

"Kelp was considered a navigational hazard, so the British carefully annotated all kelp forests on their charts,'' Costa said. "And the historical charts increase our understanding of kelp distribution over time.''

Seaweed Sojourning: November 13, 2020

For a new season of bonus Patreon mini-episodes, we’re going beyond kelp worlds to meet the rest of our seaweed sojourners.

Today, we’re stepping into a world of colour – of light, and shadow. Our first algal introduction is a stunning seaweed, known to some as rainbow leaf.

This is the first episode of of our Patreon-exclusive series: “Seaweed Sojourning”, as we explore The Curious World of Seaweed with Josie Iselin.

The Sargasso Sea Is Plenty Wide, and It’s Growing: What happens when you have too much of a good thing

Atlas Obscura 4/14/2020

Sargassum is the umbrella term for a group of marine algae species—within a larger group called seaweed—that’s fundamental to the health of an entire region of the Atlantic and the many species who either live there or pass through. Sometimes, though, it explodes in growth, creating a continent-sized bloom that thoroughly freaks out multiple countries. These blooms have long happened and are perfectly acceptable if they happen rarely. They have not been happening rarely.

There were huge blooms in 2011, and then 2014, 2015, and 2017. In 2018 and 2019, the blooms were much bigger than they had been before 2011.

“When you have a very large quantity of sargassum, either on the beach or in coastal waters, then you have a problem,” says Hu. Hu’s team tracked this washed up sargassum to a strip they’re calling the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a larger area than the Sea, stretching all the way from West Africa to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Sargassum has always lived in these areas outside the Sargasso Sea, but never before in these quantities. Since 2011, it’s all become an essentially uninterrupted, massive strip—tens of millions of tons of seaweed that weren’t there before. Excess sargassum can cause any number of problems. The algae floats when the mats are alive, but when they die, they sink. That can lead to suffocating blankets coming to rest atop delicate ecosystems such as coral reefs. Even worse, bacteria in decomposing sargassum suck oxygen out of the environment.

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