Seaweed as Food, Fodder, and Fuel

Brown seaweed
Images from An Introduction to the Study of Seaweeds (1895)

Shell-entangled, bright-hued seaweed,
From what mermaid-haunted bowers
Wert thou cast? did rude waves tear thee
From thy beauteous sister flowers?

Or did glittering star-fish tempt thee?
Did the Nautilus say, Come?
Did they whisper ‘neath the crystal,
Of a fairer, brighter home?

–S.E. Tonkin, “Seaweed” (1866)

Michael Innes’s 1977 mystery novel Honeybath’s Haven sees eccentric artist Edwin Lightfoot drowned in a saline pool of cultivated seaweeds. A pet project of Lady Munden, a fellow inmate of the retirement home in which Lightfoot lived, the pool is thick with great sea tang, whose stems are “as thick as a cable,” and sinewy bull-head kelp. It was this latter plant that proved Lightfoot’s undoing. So ensnared did he become in it, a policeman at the scene noted, that “the body had to be cut out of the stuff.”

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