Turning A Climate Disaster Into A Carbon Sink With Autonomous Biomimicking Robots
Seaweed Generation has a wild plan to save the oceans and the planet.
“Here there be monsters” hasn’t appeared on nautical maps for centuries. Yet, there is a monster brewing in the Atlantic. This foul creature is strangling vast ecosystems, decimating corals, and even destroying human infrastructure. Every year it grows in strength, thanks to our wasteful industries feeding its insatiable appetite. I’m not talking about a Kraken, sirens, or even my uncle Barry on a Lilo. No, this scourge is far more real. I am, of course, referring to sargassum seaweed and its enormous blooms. Fortunately, there is hope amid the devastation, as Seaweed Generation plans to turn this oceanic apocalypse into a planet-saving carbon sink using adorably cute robots. So, how?
Sargassum is a type of floating seaweed. It looks like a bundle of tangled brown string with air sacs mixed in, and you have most likely seen it washed up on the shore during your summer holiday. Normally, limited nutrient resources keep it from overcrowding its native ecosystem, which extends from the Caribbean over to the west coast of Africa. But not anymore. Human activity, such as intensive soya farming in the Congo, the Amazon, and the Mississippi, floods the Atlantic with nitrogen and phosphorus, allowing the sargassum to spawn at an astonishing speed, causing vast blooms that stain the surface of the ocean golden brown.
In April of 2022, NASA used satellite data to measure the sargassum levels in the Atlantic and discovered the largest sargassum bloom ever, containing a whopping 4 million metric tons of the stuff!
So why is this bad?
Well, sargassum can stop light and oxygen from reaching the water levels beneath it, literally starving and choking the underlying ocean creatures. Its string-like texture also means some marine animals, like turtles, can get caught in it and drown, which clogs up our ocean-based infrastructure, damaging it beyond repair. Sargassum also contains some toxic compounds. After all, it evolved protection to avoid the average free-floating seaweed’s fate of being munched on, but this means it can literally poison the environment around it. And it doesn’t end…