… at the Cornish Seaweed Festival

Seaweed may become another ‘thing’ for me. But in all seriousness it’s fascinating to dive into these topics, but even more fascinating to uncover local stories that are supporting this welcomed shift we are seeing to a better appreciation of our surrounding nature. This beautiful illustration of Cornish Seaweed by Rachel Akerman, is definitely to be appreciated.

But it’s more than that. This shift – I am hoping – may help each of consider what small changes we might make that will have less impact on our planet and that nature.

Let’s head to Marazion, a coastal town in Cornwall….

Listen to my introduction

In May this year this scenic coastal town on the shore of Mount’s bay right opposite St Michael’s Mount, hosted the first Cornish Seaweed Festival. A free event, organised by Natural England in partnership with Cornwall Wildlife Trust

The festival was held to raise awareness of the different species of seaweed and highlight the crucial role it plays in marine ecosystems, contributing to our marine biodiversity here in the UK. And if any of you have watched David Attenborough’s Wild Isles, you will know the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth! How did that happen?

If you are interested, there was a ‘State of Nature’ report back in 2021 that stated since the 1970’s, 41% of all UK species surveyed have declined – you can read the Parliamentary output HERE

But back to seaweed….

What are the benefits of seaweed?

  • Seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide, which plays a significant role in mitigating climate change
  • It provides a habitat and food for marine life
  • Improves the water quality by filtering nutrients and pollutants
  • Seaweed is also used as a fertiliser in agriculture’s promotion of sustainable farming
  • Its super rich in vitamins, antioxidants and iodine, and when used in food contributes to good health

Around the Cornwall coast you can find sea lettuce, kelp, pulse, oarweed, carrageen and wrack. Who knew there were so many types! This is a good resource HERE if you want to find out more about these local seaweeds and seagrasses.

In summary, it’s good stuff, and has an important role in the marine ecosystem, sustainability, economic development and can have a positive impact on human health. All excellent reasons to learn more about the seaweed around our own coast in the UK.

Did you read my recent blog on the Sargasso Sea? There are lots of different types of seaweed in our oceans, but the sargassum seaweed is somewhat unique in that it floats on the surface rather than being attached to a solid structure or the sea bottom. But read the blog, you will get the picture….

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What Happened at The Cornish Seaweed Festival in Marazion?

There were a number of creative workshops, talks, cooking demos and outdoor activities, such as snorkelling, rock-pooling and foraging – all with the idea of creating connection to the sea – have look at the programme for one of the two festival days below.

One of the workshops was hosted by a local artist, Anna Roberts. Anna has a background in Contemporary Crafts and works as a display artist at Seasalt Cornwall – you can just about see her in this window!

One of her latest designs featured a hand-crafted, seaweed linocut wallpaper, which was spotted in a window display by one of the event organisers. 

Anna was invited to hold a creative workshop, bringing together the shape and form of seaweed and the art of Lino-cutting craft. The workshop was held in a local Church, the attendees sculpted beautiful shapes inspired by foraged seaweed, which they then printed onto post cards and T-shirts. Fabulous designs, and what a great fun and creative way to learn about seaweed.

What Next?

With such a great turnout, both the town and festival goes are hopeful this will now become an annual event! What about other coastal towns doing the same? Am sure this could be replicated and is a super early summer event that brings us closer to what is important in nature on our unique planet.

There is such pleasure for me uncovering these hidden events that are springing up and surprising people. They may be small, they may be tiny steps but they represent leaps in the right direction. By amplifying these somewhat hidden treasures I hope it inspires others to do the same. I have known Anna all her life. A lovely bubbly young woman, creatively gifted and sharing my passion for nature and the environment. My thanks to Anna for sharing the story of this very special Cornish Seaweed Festival.