â€œI am gonna spend the next while collecting as many of these fertile plants as I can.â€
For centuries, people who live on the coastal areas of Ireland have gathered seaweed as a source of food, medicine and a fertilizer. Now scientists, with the support of the Irish government, are searching for ways to harvest and make use of this natural resource. Welcome to Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries, a glimpse into the world of science from the inside.
â€œOkay, at the moment I have a knife and a net bag in my hand. And I cut the fertile blades just above the fertile patches to leave as much of the adult plant behind as possible. And I have a net bag just to collect my samples.â€
Declan Hanniffy is studying at the Irish Seaweed Center at the University of Galway. Heâ€™s gathering samples of kelp, a kind of seaweed, and trying to develop a unique method of cultivating it.
ambience: water splashing, collecting seaweed
â€œWe want to be able to have a method to grow these from seeds to adult plants throughout the year independent of weather and sea conditions and we can perform it in a lab. And so it is seaweed farming, growing a crop from seed to final product.â€
â€œIf this is successful, it will mean that we will have an available crop throughout the year for potential markets. And we will have a ready supply to meet their demands.â€
â€œOkay, I just walk out, find an adult plant and follow along the blades until I find an area of dark patches on it.â€
The dark patches are the kelpâ€™s spores, the seeds that Declan will be using to grow new plants. Weâ€™ll hear about the unusual way heâ€™ll be cultivating those plants in our next program.
Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.