Stony Brook researchers: Sugar kelp could help cleanup Long Island's waterways
Researchers at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University are studying how sugar kelp may benefit Long Island's waterways.
Sugar kelp is a type of seaweed that could soon be used in restaurants or on lawns and vegetable gardens.
Researchers say it's beneficial to Long Island's waterways because it takes nitrogen out of the water. Too much nitrogen has been blamed for algae blooms and brown tide. They say all the nitrogen absorbed by the sugar kelp can be used to fertilize lawns and help to eliminate the need for pesticides.
"Right now, on Long Island there's truckloads of fertilizers being dumped on golf courses and lawns and that nitrogen finds its way into our coastal waters fueling these algae blooms," says Mike Doall, of Stony Brook Southampton. "Well, what if we grow sugar kelp and other seaweeds and that sucks this nitrogen out of the water and then we take these seaweeds and convert it into fertilizer?"
Some restaurants are also experimenting with sugar kelp. Colin Keillor, of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn and Restaurant in Jamesport, says he's been cooking with sugar kelp.
"A lot of people especially out here on the North Fork with all the farms, there are lots of people that are always looking for what's out, what's new, what are the farmers putting out on the farm stands. And they're looking for that on menus," says Keillor.
Sugar kelp is grown from seeds in a rope. Scientists say it grows fast — up to 12 feet long in about five months. They say about 70,000 pounds of it can be grown in an acre of water.