"It's best to get it out of the water now or it'll start getting grazed by the little beasties," says Lars Brunner as he hauls 50kg of glistening, translucent kelp from the dark waters of the Sound of Kerrera into the boat. The long summer days mean the seaweed is rapidly storing up sugars, which snails and barnacles find delicious.
"You can eat it, but whether it tastes good is debatable," says Brunner. He is also after the sugars, but for a different reason. His work at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams), with parallel projects in Ireland and Norway, is part of a growing worldwide effort aiming to turn the centuries-old seaweed industry into a major source of environmentally friendly biofuels.
The seaweed is farmed in a picture-perfect sea fjord that once hosted a fish farm, near Oban in Argyll, where craggy, green hills overlook the loch. "It's a very good site," says Brunner. "It has really nice currents; the seaweed needs the water to flow over the blades so they can capture the nutrients they need."Read More