Going to the Beach? Innovative Seaweed Projects and Uses
Children's Seaweed Projects
Some years ago, my kids took part in a seashore safari. There was so much to learn about and most of it was hidden under that fascinating stuff – seaweed.
Seaweed is considered to be a plant but scientifically they are more akin to simple algae. Rather than roots (unlike most land-dwelling plants, they don't need roots for water or nutrients), they have developed efficient 'hold-fasts' that anchor them to rocks. There are many, many species of seaweed, classified loosely as brown (about 1,800 varieties) and green (about 1,500).
Seaweed has been useful to mankind for thousands of years – first as fuel and food and nowadays for its ability to provide us with many useful chemical compounds.
You can collect seaweed from any beach but try to use the ones that are washed up on the beach, rather than those that are rooted in tide pools. You can easily damage a micro-ecosystem by ripping up the homes and shelter of delicate marine life that inhabits rock pools.
Magical Seaweed Weather Predictor
Collect a large piece of washed-up kelp. Kelp is the seaweed that looks like a bunch of ribbons gathered onto a stalk at one end. Stow it in a waterproof bag and take it home. Don't wash it. Hang it on a nail or hook somewhere in your yard – on the shed or a convenient wall. Look at the kelp everyday and make a note of its appearance. If it is dry and a bit shrivelled-looking, then the weather will stay fine, if it swells and becomes damp, then there is rain in the air.
If you don't live near the ocean, you can also use pine cones as weather predictors – open = fine and dry; closed = damp and wet.
Most seaweeds make excellent garden fertilizer. Collect seaweed from the beach – the ones nearest the sea are better than the dried out stuff above the tide line. Put it into bin liners and take it home. Turn the hose on it and thoroughly wash out the salt. Your mom or dad can chop it up and dig it into the soil. It is especially good for vegetables as it is completely organic although it can be a bit smelly!
Slimy Seaweed Bath
Seaweed baths are very good for your skin as seaweed contains nutrients, such as calcium, iodine, potassium, magnesium and even iron. Collect a bucket of seaweed - either bladderwrack or kelp is good. Wash the sand out of it with a hosepipe. Run a really hot bath and tip in your bucket of seaweed. The water needs to be hot so all the good minerals can leach into the water. Let it cool until you can sit in it comfortably. Wallow in the slimy mess for as long as you like. Then you'd better have a shower!
Note: Your bathtub will get very slippery, so be careful getting in and out.
Collect some bladderwrack – it is the brown seaweed with interesting bladders or air bubbles all over it - see the picture at the top of the page. Wash and dry it really well. Ask mom to use an old bedsheet to make a 'traditional' ghost costume with holes for eyes. Now ask her to sew or staple strips of bladderwrack all over the costume. Don't add too much or it will be very heavy. What a great costume. You look like a disgusting sea monster – and you smell like one too!
All Over Skin Conditioner
Collect a small bag or bucket of any common seaweed. Wash it well. Mom can cut it up with a pair of kitchen shears and feed it into a food processor. Mix the resulting mush with coconut oil and apply to your faces as a reviving face mask. If you make enough you can use it as a spa treatment - spread it all over your body, wrap yourself in a large towel and relax for up to 30 minutes. Shower off.
© 2012 Bev G