We Have a Kelp Farm!

Our kelp rig went in the water today!  Tollef Olsen came out in his boat to help us install it.  We also sampled the water near Ponce’s landing and checked its dissolved oxygen content, temperature, and salinity levels.  We had a question and answer session with Tollef before getting back on the bus.  Back at school, the kids had snack time and helped narrate the following photos for this week’s journal entry.

 

We took the bus to the wharf and met up with Erin and Tollef.

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Tollef explained how he was going to put the kelp on the rope.IMG_6694

 

He showed us the baby kelp.  They are called sporophytes. They were grown in the lab at UNE.  The pipe he used to put the kelp thread on the long line was like a bobbin from a sewing machine.

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He put the long line rope through the pipe.  He tied the thread with the seaweed on it to one end of the long line rope.  That end was attached to a piling.

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As Tollef drove from one piling to the other, the thin thread with the seaweed on it uncoiled from the pipe and wrapped around the big long line rope.

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He tied the longline with the kelp thread on it to the piling on the other side of the rig.

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He put weights on the lines.  Erin and Tollef made the weights.  They put cement in a container. They put a piece of rope in the wet cement and let the whole thing dry.

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Tollef put a buoy on the line so people will know the farm is there.

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Now we have a kelp farm!

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The view from the surface.

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While we were waiting for Tollef to finish working, Ms. Train helped us test the oxygen level of the water.

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We checked the water temperature.

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We checked the salinity.

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We learned some other things from talking to Tollef:

  • He was the first person to start a kelp farm in the US.
  • He has started six kelp farms.
  • Kelp is not a plant, but it acts like a plant. It does photosynthesis. It gets its food from nutrients in the water. It gets its energy from the sun.
  • When you harvest the kelp, there are sometimes baby sea urchins on the kelp.  If you keep your kelp from touching the ocean bottom, this should not be a big problem.
  • You need to test the water for heavy metals where you grow kelp.  There are some heavy metals in certain parts of Casco Bay from World War II.
  • There are tiny amounts of arsenic in kelp.  But our bodies need tiny amounts of many elements that can be harmful in large amounts, like arsenic.  The amount of arsenic in kelp is not dangerous.

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