Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dive In to Love!

It turns out we aren't the only ones who enjoy an occasional bouquet of flowers from our loved ones. Recent studies have shown that fresh water dolphins use seaweed to show their love for one another!
A seaweed bouquet, the perfect way to say
I love you in 'dolphin'!
Dr. Tony Martin studied fresh water dolphins for three years and noticed a repeating trend. Amazon river dolphins in particular would try to win the heart of their female companions by giving gifts; such as seaweed. 
Martin had come up with more than just one theory on the seaweed bouquets. He had noticed in his time researching that when a male dolphin gives the female seaweed, the surrounding males became more abrupt and rough. However, in the final choosing the female was drawn to the gifts. The male who had "wooed" her with the seaweed bouquet had also become the father to more offspring.
Martin had explained that only the more intellectual species on earth possess the ability to acknowledge and purse gift giving- a sign of culture. Some examples he gave, besides dolphins, were chimps and humans.
The article I read had also said Martin observed that dark-green seaweeds represented love; while the brown acknowledged friendship. The article didn't go in depth to how or why this theory evolved, but I found it quite interesting.

Original Article: Freshwater Dolphins Court the Ladies with “Weed Bouquets”
Want to know more? How dolphins say I love you with a bouquet of seaweed

Beat the Heat! Things are heating up in coral/algae relationships.

Coral reefs have been being harmed by warming ocean temperatures, but a new heat-resistant algae discovered opens up new possibilities.

With the discovery of a new heat-resistant algal species, scientists may have found a way to help coral reefs survive in the warming ocean temperatures. This new species called, "Symbiodinium thermophilum", is able to co-exist with the coral, and let it survive very high temperatures that most coral is not able to. Currently, the species is found among the gulf coast in some of the hottest coral reefs in the world, and scientists are hopefully going to find a way to use this algae and incorporate it into where it is needed most.

But why is this important? Well the heat-resistant algal species is able to prevent coral bleaching, which can happen when the ocean temperatures get too warm, and the algae leave the coral causing discoloration and a much higher chance of dying coral reefs. With coral reefs already being endangered, and declining, it is important that solutions are found quickly, or the damage will accumulate to the highest level of coral destruction ever seen. Therefore, it is very important and great news to see this new species discovered, as it gives hope for the survival of the very ecologically important coral reefs.

To read up on this article, which has a pretty good video too, Click Here
To read a related article that goes into detail about why warming oceans is a problem: Click Here

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Staying with the Times: Current Algae Legislation

Does recent Congress legislation mean greater emphasis on Algae related problems and benefits?

Picture Shown is of Lake Eerie in 2014
With the current algae related legislation that is going through Congress presently, we get to see some of the major federal and state issues that are being debated about today directly in affect with algae.
On the national level, the latest bill that passed the House of Representatives 375-37 (which is pretty much unanimously supported it means) was a bill proposed for more federally funded algae research. It also calls for the EPA to come back within 90 days and classify a list of harmful toxins to better manage these risks from algae in drinking water.
On the more state and local level, there is a mass lobbying for the cleaning of the Great Lakes, as the Lakes are currently overgrown with algae causing environmental damage and unsafe drinking water.
Such events that are making headway show that algae related laws are starting to make a push through out country. Even with smaller ideas, as simple as just purifying water from algae, or using algae in more research, opens up the door to more consideration of using algae for future uses in the energy and medicinal field.
To read up on the original article, Click Here.
Another article that goes into more detail about the law passed, Click Here.

Stinging Seaweed Stinks!

Stinging limu seaweed, also known as Lyngbya majuscula!
We thought seaweed was just that annoying green stuff interfering with our sun rays and boogie boarding. Well, think again because there's a seaweed that's not only bothersome but it's poisonous! This seaweed is called Lyngbya majuscula, also nicknamed stinging limu. This seaweed is described as fine and hair-like with a green/brown coloration. Lyngbya can be found in tropical and sub-tropical water shorelines, but not at all times of the year. The two components that make this seaweed harmful are Lyngbyatoxin A and debromoaplysiatoxin. This seaweed ranges when it comes to toxicity, due to the region, type, and season.
Beach goers that come in contact with this seaweed are asked to report it or ask the lifeguard about the irritation. It is urged to tell somebody, because it can cause a skin rash known as seaweed dermatitis. It is spread by direct contact of the stinging seaweed and skin. If this seaweed is caught in your moist bathing suit, it will continue to rub and irritate the skin! The treatment can be as simple as hydro-cortisone lotion, or depending on the severity it could require antibiotics. So, next time you're in one of these lovely tropical regions and you just so happen to feel a sting...keep in mind it may not be a jelly fish!

Original Article: Stinging seaweed at Kailua beach burns family for hours
Want to see more? Mysterious seaweed causes beach goers to break out in blistering rash

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

S.O.B: Save Our Beaches

I love the beach as much as the next person, but I don't love all of the garbage often found on beaches. One study done by the California Coastal Commission (official title) found that almost 80% of waste found on beaches comes from human intervention. Only 20% of waste product on beaches is from sea life. This 20% would be considered seaweed (like our algal blooms discussion encompasses). It has become such a problem that an estimated $520,000,000 has been spent on battling waste.

The issue is multifaceted, and does more harm than we commonly realize. Consider some waste products like six pack rings and fishing line. These can easily entangle and trap sea life and kill them. Or, chemical waste can easily be ingested, and poison many forms of sea life from fish to seaweed and even back to humans. The circle of life...

Sure it sucks when a little sand gets in my sandwich, but I wouldn't be happy with trash in my home if I was a fish.


Heatwaves Destroys 5% of Seaweed Population

Recently in Australia there has been a massive heatwave that has hurt the seaweed population. The seaweed around the shore died because the heat was so strong. When the heat is to strong and the sun is shining directly onto the seaweed and the shore, it doesn't allow for the seaweed to continue the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is to seaweed what oxygen is to living humans. We need oxygen to live, plants/seaweed need to photosynthesize in order to continue growing. Although, from gradual changes it can be seen that losing the 5% population of seaweed seems to a permanent thing because the damage was so significant. Marine biologists say that this will be permanent and that the seaweed that died cannot be replaced. This starts the argument for global warming and all of the issues that humans cause in order to produce such high temperatures. All information and a related article can be found below at:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Algae's Photosynthesis Sky Rockets in Space Research!

Are we ready to shoot for infinity and beyond? Not just yet, but Liu Yongding and his other colleagues are on the right track!
China has been working on the Chinese Space Station they would like to build by 2020. They have to take in measures; such as gravity, oxygen, and food. 
We all know it isn't possible for the human race to live in space quite yet, so scientists began wondering what organisms could be used in the experiment. First they thought of fish, and then with the realization of space and weight they decided on snails!
These snails were put into a miniature ecosystem, with algae used as their main food and oxygen source. Unfortunately only one snail survived, but that was all they needed. They killed the living snail to preserve tissue and understand the impacts of micro-gravity.
Algae photosynthesis may be the key to longer
manned space missions!
The Chinese scientists have confidence that algae will pave a path for humans in space. They believe that algae will provide humans with food and oxygen on their space missions to Mars and further!
According to the Chinese media, they have come up with a system that makes 1.5 cubic meters of algae create enough oxygen for a man who weighs about 154 pounds for one day. This experiment is still underway, but these scientists believe that this will later give them understanding how micro-gravity can effect the system.

Seaweed battles Asthma?

Recently researchers in Japan have found that the slimy stuff on seaweed can actually help the many millions of people who suffer from asthma. Something so simple and plentiful on earth has so many health benefits that we are just now discovering. Researchers found that the slime that comes off of seaweed stems is called Sodium Alginate. This substance allows the body to fight against inflammation. The second thing that sodium alginate does is allow the body not to fight off antibiotics. With the alginate it allows our bodies to receive the full benefits of our antibiotics. People who suffer with asthma, around 26 million Americans, and 235 Million people world wide, will be able to benefit from this discovery in science.


Last but not least, sodium alginate turned out to not have any of the sides effects that normal asthma medications can have.

SeaWeed= $$$$$

                            Seaweed= $$$

         All of that green slimy grass seen on the beaches can actually be used to make money for countries in high densities such as Chile. Exports of seaweed in Chile are averaging $268 million in the first 11 months of last year. From the previous year, export sales went up 3.9%. Although sales have increased, the amount of actual seaweed traded has decreased. 4,986 tons were exported last year, which is 24.4% less than the year prior. Since the recent popularity of seaweed and its uses, the selling price has gone up 12.9% (now selling at an average of $3,503 per metric ton). Fishery committees in Chile have planned to passed a legislation to begin cultivate algae projects for the positive market outlook and opportunities. The seaweed market is up and coming and definitely will be making more and more money in the near future.

Information from here.
Related links:

How Algae are Attacking Nuclear Power

All around the world nuclear power plants are under the attack of various types of algae and jellyfish.  Since nuclear power plants are typically located near large bodies of water due to their need for a cooling mechanism it leads to a warming of the water surrounding the plant. The warm water leads to the perfect environment for algal and jellyfish blooms.  As a result it is a common occurrence for seaweed to get stuck in the cooling system.  This ultimately prompts a shutdown of the plant to avoid overheating the reactors and risking a nuclear disaster.

Original Article:
Related Article:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Let Algae Light Up Your Life!

Jamaica's Glistening Waters: Luminous Lagoon
When people think about algae, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is the green stuff in fish tanks. Well, I'm about to flush that stereotype down the drain! What if I told you people take vacations just to see algae? 
Fasten your life vest, because they do! There are fifteen destinations that are known for their bio-luminescent algae. A well known vacation place, Jamaica, has it's very own Glistening Waters. If it were up to me, I would call it magic but a marine biologist would disagree! 
It can be as simple as fish swimming in the water or the touch or your hand, but the motion stimulates the organisms to glow. These organisms in particular are called dinoflagellates. The mixture of water from the bay, Caribbean salt water, fresh water, and nutrients derived from red mangrove trees create the vacation spot for not only us but these bio-luminescent organisms. Take a trip to one of the fifteen beautiful destinations and let algae light up your life!

Seaweed Cosmetics Brings Success for Former Prisoners

Around the world various types of seaweeds are harvested for a wide range of uses.  One of these uses is in the cosmetics industry.  This industry coupled with the abundance of seaweed along the Kenyan coast allowed ex-prisoners to find a new start.  The group of fifty-three former inmates that started the Risha brand of beauty products have also provided hope for other former prisoners.

Original Article:
Related Article:

Seaweed Harvesting Cuts

Over the past year seaweed harvesting on wild species have started to decrease. The reason being in 2012 British Columbia passed a law to allow the harvesting of washed up seaweed on beaches. This now has caused harm to certain ecosystems. Fisheries in Maine have begun to cut down on harvesting because of this they are hoping to set a standard for the moderation of harvesting. This is interesting because rarely do you see state fisheries have this much interest in cutting back on seaweed. I believe that this is a step forward towards the government caring about the environment
Full Article

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Making Paper from Seaweed?

     Yes, it is possible to make paper from seaweed! You can even do it yourself with the helpful instructions from Megan Singleton. She starts the process by going to beaches and collecting invasive species that have washed onto shore. Then, she takes the seaweed to her kitchen where she places it into a pot, along with Soda Ash. She then turns the stove on and simmers the seaweed filled pot for three hours. After the three hours are up, Megan removes the boiled water and rinses the seaweed with fresh, cold water. Once cleaned, the seaweed gets placed into a blender and make into a "pulp slurry". After the seaweed is blended, Megan places it onto a vat where the seaweed sheets are pulled by mould and deckle contraption. Once the sheets are made, there are a variety of ways to press and dry them. In this article, she explained that she hand pressed them and laid the sheets out to dry on a glass window. Megan's final comment in the article was that the sheets are surprising sturdy, waxy, and translucent. 
     Okay, this is way cool! Not only is it a fun DIY for individual people to do, but it could be a huge help globally if large companies produced seaweed paper. Using seaweed would decrease the amount of trees being lost to paper products because the seaweed rates are lower than trees. The rate of harvesting seaweeds is closer to the rate of their growth, and tree harvesting rates are much higher than their growth rates.Therefore, using seaweed as replacement for trees is a great idea! Oh, the possibilities of using seaweed for paper are endless!

For the love of seaweed...

We all know that a piece of seaweed contains dozens of nutrients to improve your help. With a new study on the effects of seaweed on the heart, you might even want to replace your daily bowl of Cheerios with it.

The protein Palmaria Palmate is found in red seaweeds in Europe and America, and has links to treating high blood pressure, which in turn can also prevent cardiovascular  disease. Without getting into the gruesome scientific details of the studio, researchers propose to add this protein into more bread products, as bread is one of the most widely consumed foods. Food producers found that the taste of the bread did not change, but increased protein.

One of the main goals of modern health care and medicine is to not only treat illness, but prevent it. Thus, the importance of those nagging yearly check-up appointments. This change won't eliminate disease entirely, but will aid in a source of preventative measures for the future.


Designer Seaweeds!

Original Article Here

Umino Hiroyuki has developed the incredible, edible art of laser cut seaweed to use for traditional sushi rolls. Each design has some significance to Japanese culture and history (i.e. beauty, good fortune, longevity, etc.). The nori sheets are thicker than what is typically used in sushi making to provide extra strength while preparing. The left over bits are used to be sold as toppings or complied into new sheets instead of thrown away.

Truly the designs are beautiful and I believe that only skilled and experienced sushi makers will be able to use the delicate sheets. The sheets turn an old and traditional dish into a piece of art and in time I think it will gain more and more popularity world wide. 

You can read an interview with the creator and see more pictures Here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Algae's promising new role in Animal Feed

Animal Feed of the Future?


From small farms, to factory feeders, a question that always comes up at some point is, what should  be fed to my animals? This is always a tough question to decide, as there is a constant struggle for cost verses quality, along with the many factors this decision affects. However an interesting new solution is proposing itself as a possible lower cost and higher quality food source compared to current feed that is used today. And this solution is algae.

Algae is being considered for two main reasons. One is the sustainability of algae compared to current land based feeds such as corn or soy. With a lot of farming space being used for corn and soy, algae can be used to take some of that farmland and use it for other crops/produce. The second reason is that algae is shown to lead to better health in the animals, and higher quality food source. With current cheap feed causing harmful health effects in animals, algae is a possible solution to this problem.

As the research continues, and the initiative builds, watch for algae to be an increasingly more common role in animal feed in the future.

Original Article: Click Here
Related Site: Click Here (Specifically the animal feed section)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Algae-Powered Lamps: Our Answer for Energy

Algae-lamps will benefit the marine life for the better, as well as
solving our energy problem!
French biochemist Pierre Calleja may have found the answers to our energy crisis by using bio-luminescent algae! 

Calleja has been working on an algae-powered lamp that absorbs carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen and giving off a soft glow. These organisms can absorb carbon dioxide two hundred times more efficiently than trees, possibly helping towards global warming. All of this energy is stored in a battery until the later in the day when the light is needed. Some people would compare this lamp to a solar panel, and it's one of the best comparisons I could think of myself.
This lamp not only produces well needed
energy, but it may impact the marine life for the better too! As we discussed in class algal blooms can be harmful to marine species because of the harmful toxins they give off. The lamp, needing algae to operate, will take excess algae from the ocean giving the fish and other species a hand. 

Original Article: Can an Algae-Powered Lamp Quench Our Thirst for Energy?
Want to know more? Living Micro-algae Lamp Absorbs CO2 from the Air

Growing Hair With the Help of Seaweed

         Experiencing quickened hair loss can be a scary thing. Losing 50-100 hairs per day is normal but when the amount of loss exceeds the rate of growth, that’s when a problem ensues. There’s no specific disorder that leads to it; it can be anything from hormonal changes or medication to poor nutrition and damage from hair treatments. There really isn’t a reliable way to reverse it once it’s started either, so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to prevent it.

Studies have shown success with adding marine macroalgae, also known as seaweed, to our diet. Adding it may help restore and grow our hair. Seaweed, as we have learned in class, is filled with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals essential for our body. According to the article, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids stimulate growth by feeding hair follicles. Iron and zinc maintain hair production. Vitamins A and C produce sebum, which acts as a natural hair conditioner, while vitamins B and E help maintain healthy hair. Lastly, seaweed detoxifies the body, which can also promote healthier hair growth.

Eating seaweed is one of two options. The other, which is discussed in the related article, is to apply the seaweed to your hair. The directions on how to make it into a conditioner are in the article as well.

Original article click here
Related article click here

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Say Bye-Bye to Stretch Marks!

Seaweed is used in many ways when it comes to beauty and enhancing your overall skin appearance. Spa goers know this, because of the seaweed body wraps that are offered there. Usually people get these treatments done for relaxation, to rid the body of toxins, and to increase blood circulation.
Enhance your skin's appearance and unwind in the process!
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the seaweed stimulates blood circulation and in return regenerates the tissue that aids in collagen production.
However, it is a give and take process. Seaweed wraps will improve your skin, help tighten your skin, fade stretchmarks, and reduce scarring; but in order for these results to add up you have to maintain a steady body weight.
The results are lasting, but will take a few treatments to show noticeable differences. So if you're looking for a skin treatment that will enhance your appearance, diminish stretch marks, and relax you in the process take a trip to the spa and treat yourself!

Original Article: Seaweed Body Wrap for Stretch Marks
Want to know more? 4 Beauty Benefits of Seaweed Body Wrap

Seaweed and Chocolate: A Healthier Alternative

     Scientists at Warwick University have discovered a new, healthier chocolate made with seaweed.  The Warwick scientists are referring to this delectable finding as, “choco-lite.”  The choco-lite contains agar from seaweed, which is present in the form of bubbles.  The fat in the chocolate is replaced by the agar bubbles.  The bubbles are so small that there is barely a difference in the consistency between choco-lite and regular chocolate.  Agar provides a generous amount of fiber, so eating the choco-lite will keep one fuller for a longer amount of time (as opposed to consuming regular chocolate).  While past attempts at creating a healthier form of chocolate have failed, the scientists report that choco-lite is actually tasty, while simultaneously healthy.  Different ingredients, including amaretto, are being tested in an attempt to further enhance the flavor of the choco-lite.
Related: All About Agar