One man’s dream of an underwater farm
Transcript podcast – September 20, 2019
Wave Crookes has always worked at sea. Most recently he has been a lifeboat-man.
Now he has a plan to rescue not people who get in trouble on the water but to save the sea itself – from plastic rubbish.
Wave is setting up a farm. But that doesn’t mean that he is coming ashore. With a name like “Wave”, he jokes, he always felt he had to work at sea. Wave plans to be England’s first seaweed farmer.
That’s right. Seaweed is already really useful in all sorts of ways. In Asia, people eat it a lot. It also goes into medicines. Even if you’ve never tucked into a Japanese salad, you have certainly eaten seaweed yourself. They add it to ice cream to make it, well, creamy…
But seaweed has an exciting new use that could help fix a big problem – plastic waste in the sea.
Wave realised just how big the plastic problem is for the creatures that live in the sea when he was working down near the South Pole with his partner Laura Robinson. She is a marine biologist – a scientist who studies the sea and its plants and creatures.
Wave told his local newspaper, the Yorkshire Post: “Laura and I have both seen at first hand, as far as Antarctica, ocean animals full of plastic.”
There are things everyone should do to stop filling our sea with plastic. But Wave saw that he could do more than most to help the sea that he loved because of his special knowledge and abilities.
When he was young, he worked as a fisherman. He joined the British Navy where he learned to dive. Later he worked as a diver around deep sea oil rigs. (Some of their oil is used to make plastic.)
He also went out in small boats during storms to rescue people. And he had a business collecting small amounts of seaweed at the shore to sell to restaurants.
Wave and Laura heard how people are making a kind plastic out of seaweed that will not pollute the ocean. They knew seaweed grows really well near their home. And Wave’s skills in handling boats, hauling in fish and working underwater will be essential in their new farm.
“You can make biodegradable plastic from it,” Wave told the Yorkshire Post. “When it goes back into the sea, it just disappears.”
Wave says seaweed farming will also give jobs to other people like him who love the sea. And he loves how seaweed farming is so simple and clean:
“All seaweed needs is sunlight, not fresh water, chemicals or power,” he says. “It really is something for nothing.”