Swill Magazine Issue 5 - Out Now

An extraordinary seaweed growing along the coast of Tasmania has the power to halt climate change


Seaforest - Sam Elsom
Sam Elsom
Fish - Sam Elsom
Sam Elsom

There’s no magic pill for reducing the effects of climate change, right? Wrong.

A group of scientists have made one, using red kelp that grows all along the Tasmanian coastline. Not only does this seaweed suck four times more carbon out of the atmosphere than a tree, but it also has the ability to drastically reduce methane emissions in cattle. By sheer dint of it simply existing in the water, it also helps scrub the ocean of acid buildup. It’s also very delicious to eat.

So what the hell is this magical science plant? Meet asparagopsis taxiformis, a very special red kelp indeed. One of the many skills asparagopsis possesses is its ability to break down certain reactions in a cow’s stomach. Picture that stomach as a large version of a barbecue gas cylinder you get from the servo.That gas chamber stomach creates methane through fermentation as part of the very slow breakdown of the cow’s food.

Feeding livestock just 30 grams of asparagopsis seaweed per animal per day can reduce that animal’s methane emissions by up to 98.2 per cent. Think of it as a bit like an antacid for ruminants. Let’s call it Vitamin Sea.

“There are currently a billion cows on the planet. Think about that every time you eat an ice cream”

The other drawcard is Vitamin Sea’s ability to encourage faster growth in cattle by up to 20 per cent. The end result, essentially, is more food, with fewer resources. That’s a big win for the ocean, our carbon footprint, cattle, livestock farmers and, of course, lovers of milkshakes.

To have a promising future on earth, we need to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent. Methane from livestock such as sheep and cows represents 70 per cent of agricultural emissions. And there are currently a billion cows on the planet. Think about that every time you eat an ice cream, pour milk in your tea or order a fillet steak smothered in cafe de paris butter.

That’s where Sea Forest steps in. Spearheaded by Sam Elsom, a designer and creative director who’s been working in sustainable apparel production for the past 15 years, Sea Forest’s mission is to help to reduce global carbon emissions created by livestock, using the asparagopsis seaweed concentrate. “I think we’re already living in the world climate scientists have predicted,” says Elsom. “It’s happening.”

Enjoyed this extract? The whole story is available in glorious print, on all good bookshelves and via our store

Related News

Lauren Brincat
05.07.2022 Art

Australian artist Lauren Brincat wishes to be heard

Mark Best
05.07.2022 Food

Chef Mark Best on risk-taking and rule breaking

28.11.2022 Essay,Food

Tim Malfroy, bee charmer


Myffy Rigby


Pru Engel


Sea Forest