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  1. #1
    Established TDF Member Eddie Clamp's Avatar
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    Caribbean sargassum weed

    When waves of sargassum - a type of seaweed - washed up on Eastern Caribbean shores seven years ago, people hoped it was a one-off. Matted piles swamped coastlines from Tobago to Anguilla.

    Now it is happening again and everything suggests 2018 could be the worst year yet.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-45044513

  2. #2
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    How very interesting. We had a marine reef tank years ago that was over run with this stuff. Guess there is a huge nutrient spike somewhere to blame for the algal bloom.

    There is currently a proposal to start mechanical dredging for kelp off the west coast of Scotland to produce marine biopolymers (alginate to be used in the production of pharmaceuticals - gaviscon). Surely harvesting these unwanted seaweed blooms would be a much better source of the raw material rather than destroying delicate coastal ecosystems.

    Sharon

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    Established TDF Member Firefly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frogfone View Post

    There is currently a proposal to start mechanical dredging for kelp off the west coast of Scotland.

    Sharon
    The same is going on in Ireland too: https://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpo...ct-456566.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefly View Post
    The same is going on in Ireland too: https://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpo...ct-456566.html
    There is a plant near Girvan, Alginate Industries, which already does this. Presumably their raw material, Kelp, is already being harvested on a large scale. Crofters on the west coast used to burn dried kelp as iodene could be extracted from the ash.

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    Established TDF Member steelemonkey's Avatar
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    Do they still put seaweed on the potato fields in Jersey? They don't seem as tasty as they used to.
    Paul.
    If God had meant us to breathe underwater, he would have given us larger bank balances.
    Human beings were invented by water as a means of moving itself from one place to another.

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    Established TDF Member witchieblackcat's Avatar
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    My grandparents lived in Bermuda and every now and then the weed would fill the local bay. I would be tasked with snorkelling out into the bay and filling a wheelbarrow with the stuff to put on the garden as fertiliser. They grew citrus and bananas commercially for years and it didn't seem to do any harm.

  7. #7
    Confused? You will be. Jay_Benson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frogfone View Post
    How very interesting. We had a marine reef tank years ago that was over run with this stuff. Guess there is a huge nutrient spike somewhere to blame for the algal bloom.

    There is currently a proposal to start mechanical dredging for kelp off the west coast of Scotland to produce marine biopolymers (alginate to be used in the production of pharmaceuticals - gaviscon). Surely harvesting these unwanted seaweed blooms would be a much better source of the raw material rather than destroying delicate coastal ecosystems.

    Sharon
    If the bloom was as reliably in the same location as the kelp is then they would do that but getting the processing equipment to the right place would, I suspect, make it commercially unviable.
    For information to help you plan your dive trip in the UK and Eire try www.planyourdivetrip.co.uk

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  8. #8
    Established TDF Member Chrisch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelemonkey View Post
    Do they still put seaweed on the potato fields in Jersey? They don't seem as tasty as they used to.
    You really shouldn't eat fields. Yuk.

  9. #9
    TDF Member cprobertson1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay_Benson View Post
    If the bloom was as reliably in the same location as the kelp is then they would do that but getting the processing equipment to the right place would, I suspect, make it commercially unviable.
    Short answer, I believe the blooms occur in different places and are at the mercy of oceanic currents - but if you could predict where it is or where it's going (maybe satellite thermal IR imagery would be a good bet, I'd reckon - could look for large-scale changes in emissivity. Spectroscopy might be better actually (look for absorption bands corresponding to decay products of the algae))

    However you detect it (visual surveyance, spectroscopy, imaging, chemical sensing etc) you could net it up before it makes landfall and then transport it to where you want to process it. If you can't afford a satellite [s]join the club[/s] then an aircraft should be able to perform a similar job.

    Another problem, would be reliably forecasting algae volume - one years bloom may not be as large as the next - it'd be quite a volatile market proposition in that regard (but at the same time, you could work on a steady rate that caters for the smaller blooms - and when the larger blooms come along, sell off the excess or hire contractors to deal with it.)

    The biggest problem (in my opinion) would be reliably detecting large bodies of the algae and guessing where it's headed - rather than processing it afterwards. There's also the matter of inclement weather affecting both the detection and collection of the algae.

    Could be an interesting business prospect actually - I'm more interested in all the cool stuff you can do with it (I've made rudimentary plastics from kelp before, for instance!) and the scientific side of things (detection methods, process engineering, etc) - but the business side might be interesting as well; not my specialty though!


 

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