Ocean Regenerative is in the Water!
December 14, 2020
The Ocean Regenerative (ORA) team has been busy! Earlier this week, ORA embarked on our inaugural planting excursion, seeding over 300 meters of line across multiple regions in BC. The team travelled over 1000km and sailed 9 vessels over 5 days to ensure the planting could take place before the winter solstice, and were rewarded with low winds, periods of sun, and not a drop of rain. A pretty rare feat for winter in British Columbia! Under advisory from BC’s godfather of Kelp, Dr. Louis Druehl, the ORA team efficiently gained the competencies for deploying kelp farm infrastructure for test sites.
By spot checking multiple regions, ORA can monitor the growth and growing conditions to identify their first commercial scale farm. Kelp seed is produced in a lab environment using a ‘spore patch’ method. Between late October and early November, mature kelp blades (also referred to as Sori) are gathered, cleaned, and treated. After a trigger event, the zoospores release from the blade, and are impregnated into the seed spools. After about 5-6 weeks of growing in a controlled environment, the spools are ready to be deployed. An example of a seed spool can be seen in the photo gallery above. The farm build and seeding process as we know it today is laborious and physically demanding, meaning there is ample opportunity for improvement. With a long history of continuous improvement and process optimization, ORA is committed to investing in innovation and end -to-end automation, to promote the economic viability of the kelp farming industry at scale.
ORA would like to extend a special thanks to Daniel Toften for volunteering his time and expertise in the marine industry in helping Matthias and David make sure the project was completed on time. Further thanks to Kevin and Neil from Bamfield Mercantile, your coffee was much appreciated!! CEO David Parker is effectively translating the best practices from a multinational mining conglomerate to a Kelp farming start-up, starting with safety. Throughout the week, the team ensured that proper safety protocols were followed by everyone involved. Experiencing firsthand the variability of the Pacific Ocean, one piece of advice I would like to share is to come overprepared and be creative. Despite experiencing relatively cooperative weather conditions, working on the ocean provided us with several challenges that were unique to each trip, and the ability to problem solve and improvise on the spot allowed us to finish our projects on a narrow timeline.
Over the next 5 months, the kelp will transform from a microscopic spore, into large and vibrant algae. At its peak, some kelp species can grow over a meter per day and can create an ecosystem of other marine animals. It can act as a safe haven for juvenile salmon, and even become the spawning grounds for herring. When the kelp is ready to be harvested, ORA will use the biomass for product testing and for R&D purposes. We are very excited to see the results of our first test lines in May/June! Tune in to see the results!