Seaweed: regenerate, restore, and revive our oceans | Jill Johnson | TEDxGunnHighSchool | Summary and Q&A

September 25, 2023
TEDx Talks
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Seaweed: regenerate, restore, and revive our oceans | Jill Johnson | TEDxGunnHighSchool

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In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of protecting and restoring our oceans while also using them as a source of food and resources. They highlight the current state of the oceans, the threats they are facing, and the need to take action. The speaker also introduces the concept of using seaweed as a solution for ocean restoration and explains its benefits for both the environment and the economy. They share two case studies that demonstrate how seaweed farming and restoration efforts are already making a positive impact.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why is it important to protect our oceans?

Our oceans cover 71% of the planet and play a vital role in regulating climate systems and supporting food systems. More than 3 billion people rely on the oceans every day for their food and livelihoods. Without healthy oceans, our planet and its inhabitants would suffer greatly.

Q: What are some challenges that the oceans are currently facing?

The oceans are facing various threats, including rising temperatures, increasing acidity, reduced oxygen levels, and storms. These changes are caused by excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions and the absorption of carbon dioxide, leading to negative impacts on marine life and ecosystems.

Q: How does seaweed help in restoring the oceans?

Seaweed, particularly kelp, plays a significant role in restoring the oceans. Kelp forests act as habitat for animals, protect coastlines from wave action, and absorb excess nutrients that can pollute the water. Moreover, they absorb carbon dioxide, helping to mitigate climate change. By restoring and protecting kelp forests, we can restore the health of our oceans.

Q: Can seaweed be used as a food source?

Yes, seaweed is not only a nutritious food source but also a sustainable alternative to land-based agriculture. Countries like Japan, Korea, and China have been consuming seaweed for generations. It contains minerals and vitamins similar to regular vegetables and can be used in various dishes such as kelp burgers, kelp chips, and kelp kimchi.

Q: Is there a market for seaweed-based products?

Yes, there is a growing market for seaweed-based products, including food and materials. Seaweed packaging made from algae is being developed as a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging. Additionally, seaweed can be used to create textiles, potentially leading to seaweed clothing becoming more common in the future.

Q: Can you provide an example of seaweed restoration efforts?

One example is the restoration of bull kelp off the coast of California. Due to the disappearance of sea stars, sea urchins were left unchecked and overgrazed on the kelp, causing significant damage. A startup company collected sea urchins, fed them a specific diet, and harvested their eggs, which are a delicacy called uni. This led to the reestablishment of kelp forests, demonstrating the effectiveness of marine restoration.

Q: How can seaweed farming benefit the economy and job creation?

Seaweed farming can provide economic opportunities, especially in regions affected by changes in the fishing industry. In Maine, where lobster fishermen faced challenges due to warming waters, they started farming seaweed during the off-season. Seaweed farming requires minimal inputs and can be done without owning land, making it accessible and sustainable. This form of farming is also emerging in Alaska and California, with projections suggesting that seaweed farming could surpass potato farming by 2050.


Protecting and restoring our oceans is crucial for the health of our planet and the well-being of billions of people who depend on them. Seaweed farming and restoration efforts have shown promising results in mitigating the threats to our oceans and creating sustainable economic opportunities. By making conscious choices in our daily lives, such as opting for seaweed-based products and supporting the regenerative economy, we can all contribute to the restoration and preservation of our oceans.

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