Orbital View: Seaweed Farming

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

This I’ve never seen before—so cool:

Seaweed #aquaculture off the densely populated coast of #Akashi, Japan.

A photo posted by Planet Labs (@planet_labs) on

It kinda looks like a karyotype, or the mapping of chromosomes. NASA last year served up a satellite view of seaweed farming off the coast of South Korea that was even more impressive than the one above. From NASA’s description:

Along the south coast of South Korea, seaweed is often grown on ropes, which are held near the surface with buoys. This technique ensures that the seaweed stays close enough to the surface to get enough light during high tide but doesn’t scrape against the bottom during low tide. [...] Since 1970, farmed seaweed production has increased by approximately 8 percent per year. Today, about 90 percent of all the seaweed that humans consume globally is farmed. That may be good for the environment. In comparison to other types of food production, seaweed farming has a light environmental footprint because it does not require fresh water or fertilizer.

(See all Orbital Views here)