The Faroe Islands see little daylight during the winter; on the solstice, the sun peeks over the horizon for around five hours. During these dark months, beneath the surface of the ocean, a sunken forest prepares to burst into life. Supported by buoys, ropes of seaweed seedlings absorb the North Atlantic’s nutrients and wait for the spring.
When spring arrives, photosynthesis begins. Light is transformed into biomass, and suddenly the seaweed is everywhere. Huge sheets of it snake up the ropes that dangle down through the uppermost 30 feet of the ocean—just below the waves that roll across the surface.
This is a farm, but not as you know it. Banish your images of wheat and tractors; on this farm, the seaweed is the crop, and the ocean is field and furrow rolled into one. The first harvest is usually ready by late April, at which point the seaweed is sliced off the lines, collected in boxes, and brought to shore.
The company that owns the farm is called Ocean Rainforest. Its director, Olavur Gregersen, believes that seaweed farming is the future. “Some 10 years ago, a young man came to me with an idea about how the Faroe Islands could mitigate climate change by growing a forest in the ocean,” he says. “That was basically how it started.”
Read about WWF's investment in Ocean Rainforest here.