Seaweed Pilot Farm in San Diego Bay

The pilot farm site at the end of Grape Street Pier No. 1

The pilot farm site at the end of Grape Street Pier No. 1

Through our partnership with the Port of San Diego, we are working to bring seaweed farming to life in California. This 1/4 acre ocean farm is about 25 feet deep, and allows us to grow many different species of seaweed by using the different depths. Beneath the surface are dozens of horizontal lines of seaweed, each placed according to the species’ ideal light conditions for growth. We are continuously out-planting and harvesting on the farm site so we can see what conditions lead to fastest growth.

 

Monitoring our Giant Kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera)  line

Monitoring our Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) line

We regularly SCUBA dive at the farm, which allows us to monitor the health of our seaweeds and ensure all our lines are in place. The types of seaweed we are focused on cultivating have various uses, and are all native to Southern California. We chose to grow seaweeds that have potential as a food crop, such as Ogo (Gracilaria Pacifica) and Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca), as well as some that have potential for biofuel and fertilizer, such as Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). We want to demonstrate that it is useful for farmers to grow a variety of macroalgae, as opposed to just one type, as this can lead to a more year round farming pattern and a diversity of product offerings.

 

Dr. Matt Edwards lecturing in the field

Dr. Matt Edwards lecturing in the field

One of the most exciting aspects of Sunken Seaweed’s endeavor is our collaboration with San Diego State University’s Kelp Ecology Lab, led by Dr. Matt Edwards. By working with academia, we are making the case for ecological aquaculture through collecting valuable scientific data. Since seaweed farming is such a new field in the United States, having research partners is crucial to ensuring ethical, ecosystem-focused cultivation methods. We are also dedicated to partnering with college students interested in regenerative aquaculture, and are working to incorporate this type of curriculum in California public institutions.