CA - CSUN Professors Says Seaweed Aquaculture Might be the Next ‘Big Thing’

California’s future may lie in seaweed, specifically kelp.

California State University, Northridge marine biologist Janet Kübler has been awarded a $152,054 grant from the National Sea Grant College Program and her industry partner, The Cultured Abalone Farm in Goleta, Cailf. to develop a seaweed crop that isn’t yet grown by anybody else. If successful, Kübler may have identified a new aquaculture product for the state.

“We are part of making a new sustainable economy,” Kübler said. “Some researchers and entrepreneurs are pioneers using what we know about ecology to make an economy where life flourishes. That sounds like a crazy big idea but my part of it is just growing new seaweeds and I can do that.”

What Kübler is growing is a kelp, like giant kelp that make up kelp forests, underwater areas with high density of kelp. Giant kelp are sensitive to warm temperatures, so when we experience warm years — such as El Niño years, which are characterized by the appearance of unusually warm, nutrient-poor water in the Pacific Ocean — there are big diebacks of the kelp forests. However, there are some species native to Southern California that are tolerant of higher ocean water temperatures.

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