The Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego hosted seaweed scientists and aficionados at a Seaweed Speakeasy earlier this month, as part of the 4th Annual California Seaweed Festival.
The Seaweed Speakeasy was held Nov. 3 at the Ted and Jean Scripps Marine Conservation and Technology Facility (MCTF), a new facility at Scripps designed to support research and education and foster community collaborations.
Highlighting the diversity, importance, and growing interest in California seaweeds, the event included a seaweed science showcase, seaweed-inspired food, cocktails and mocktails, seaweed art from local artists, and a live immersive performance by ResilienSEA.
Scripps Oceanography Professor Jennifer Smith, one of the event co-hosts, leads a lab dedicated to studying human impacts on coastal ecosystems, with a focus on conservation, sustainability and seaweed science. According to Smith, we have several hundred species of native California seaweeds right here off of our coast. She noted that seaweeds are one of our most underutilized resources yet have much to offer to society.
“Seaweeds will play a really important role in helping us achieve our sustainability goals from their use as food, feed, fertilizers, cosmetics, bioplastics, biofuels and even as a methane mitigating supplement in livestock,” said Smith. “It was really exciting to see the overwhelming support and enthusiasm that this sold-out seaweed event generated in our community. This was the first but will certainly not be the last event to celebrate seaweed here in San Diego.”
The Seaweed Speakeasy was unique in that it brought together a diverse group of people — scientists, students, artists, chefs, mixologists, performers, seaweed harvesters, donors and entrepreneurs — to celebrate the importance of seaweed to sustainability. The event exposed guests to the many possibilities local seaweeds offer, including their role in fighting climate change and value to human health.
“Seaweeds are delicious and nutritious,” said event co-host Sarah Mesnick, an adjunct Scripps faculty member and scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “From Indigenous foodways to uni on seaweed chicharrones, the speakeasy highlighted our strong culinary connections to the ocean and San Diego’s diverse cultural culinary heritage.”
The speakeasy was also an effort to highlight CMBC’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative, which is a collaboration among Scripps Oceanography, NOAA Fisheries, and California Sea Grant that serves as a catalyst for broad engagement towards sustainable and equitable seafood systems.
Below, learn more about the Seaweed Speakeasy in a series of photographs captured at the event.
About Scripps Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.
About UC San Diego
At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at ucsd.edu.