Penmon Seaweed Hatchery
PEBL facilities in March 2021.
In Spring 2020 our project began with us exploring the early life stages of the seaweed species Porphyra (otherwise known as Laver or Nori). Laver is a red seaweed (though it looks more like a browny colour when you see it on the beach). Laver is a traditional Welsh food and the main ingredient in laverbread. Despite its heritage roots to Wales, Laver - and seaweeds in general - are not widely eaten in the British Isles.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit it caused such delays for us that we could not get fertile Laver seedlings in time (typically fertile in spring), so we started to look at other species we could cultivate in a later season. That's when we became hooked on Dulse - another red seaweed (and one that actually looks a deep maroon when you find it) that not only has all the great benefits already mentioned, but also has a delicious smokey flavour when fried that some have equated to the taste of bacon. And so our project became focused on Dulse (in the winter) and Laver (in the spring) - two delicious varieties of seaweed that we hope will become future dinner time favourites.
Dulse harvested in April 2021
Dulse, fried for 2 minutes to make a delicious snack
In late 2020 we established a seaweed hatchery facility at the old Dinmor Quarry, Penmon Point in Anglesey. This facility was constructed out of two 20ft shipping containers and is entirely powered by an off-grid solar-battery installation. The design and installation of this facility was supported through the Innovate UK Sustainable Innovation Fund.
In early 2021 we completed installing the hatchery facility and since have been able to begin our research into cultivating Laver and Dulse. For successful cultivation each species requires the optimal conditions. Therefore we designed the hatchery such that we can test many different parameters in parallel. Some of the key parameters that we can vary are light intensity, the amount of nutrients, the temperature and the amount of fresh seawater circulating in each tank.
Cultivation tanks in the seaweed hatchery
Dulse cultivation experiment in progress
In spring 2021 we also started cultivating Sugar Kelp. This species is typically grown on thin twine which is wrapped around a pipe to make a spool. Kelp is a very fast growing species and we have been able to identify baby Sugar Kelp blades after just 4 weeks of cultivation.
Kelp seeding spools in cultivation tanks in week 1
Kelp spools after 4 weeks of cultivation