SeaWeaver is a system of applying techniques from seaweed farming, aquaculture & conservation biology,
and weaving them together into structures whose form offers abundant substrate for native ecosystem-builders and sanctuary for keystone species.
All structures are fully woven
Sea life will cling to almost anything, and aquaculture makes good use of this; kelp, mussels and other creatures are grown on long ropes in a simple practice called monoline aquaculture
Those ropes could first weave into stronger braids, tighter knots, fabric faces, and 3D forms; geometry on which life can unfold. This single inexpensive material is the elemental building block of creating any conceivable geometry in a single strong interwoven body
This concept takes the ropes used to grow kelp in standard monoline seaweed aquaculture practice, and weaves it into a geometric form. The conical form presents the same low-drag slope from every direction. Kelp can grow from the woven surface, while below an inner area offers sanctuary and spawning ground to key fish and invertebrates. Organic rope materials can last decades before beginning to naturally decompose in place.
Above: Conceptual model of a circular long-term kelp forest structure.
Enthusiastic inhabitation of the woven structure by wildlife
Living diorama of kelp forest structure concept (freshwater)
I'm also beginning to look at applying mineral accretion electrolysis for creating structures in kelp ecosystems.
Eelgrass is a vital ecosystem-builder. When its roots grow down into the sand they stabilizes the substrate, which helps new plants remain in place while they establish roots of their own. When eelgrass is transplanted to new areas without existing eelgrass, one of the hardest challenges is getting them to stay in the sand, because this stabilization effect is not present.
This effect can be replicated with a woven form; an low-density surface suspended between interwoven earth anchors at each corner, which provides a hold on the area of substrate the surface covers. Transplants within this area have a higher likelihood of remaining in place while their own roots can grow.
Blue-striped and shiner perch at the Seattle Aquarium's Birds and Shores enclosure hide among the eelgrass planted in this woven mat.
Inserting the transplants into the weave allows new roots, rhizomes and runners to develop below this surface & encourage complex intergrowth
I wove this mat with 2 different densities to see if there would be any effect on plant retention and health
Seattle Aquarium Conservation Programs
The ecosystem housed in the Birds and Shores enclosure at the Seattle Aquarium included eelgrass, but the plant couldn't be found there - until August 2022, when I planted ~100 plants into a prototype woven mat in the middle of the subtidal area.
We'll be monitoring the health and stability of this colony over the next year. This isn't as stressful an environment as a tidal bed by the coast, but it allows us to watch the plants, weave, and animal interactions up-close throughout it's entire lifetime. This will help us better craft solutions for larger-scale restoration endeavors.
Planting eelgrass plants within the mat
Perch swim among the newly planted grass in Birds and Shores. Can you see the shape of the weave below the surface?
The eelgrass plants were donated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim, WA.
Special thanks to Amy Borde at PNNL and Julie Carpenter at Seattle Aquarium
This prototype mat is currently housing transplants in the Birds and Shores enclosure. Check it out at the Seattle Aquarium!
Hard corals; the foundation of tropical reef ecosystems, are directly harmed by ocean acidification, rising temperatures, and habitat destruction. Natural reefs take hundreds of years to build up complicated formations, but corals are also happy to grow on man-made structures like support columns and shipwrecks.
By employing rigid basket weaving practices, I was able to create sturdy 3D forms with small amounts of steel, one of the most preferred artificial reef building materials.
To better understand the factors of artificial reef design, I traveled to Koh Tao, Thailand learn from New Heaven Reef Conservation to learn from New Heaven Reef Conservation.
Their program maintains a mineral accretion electrolysis system in a local harbor to "grow" reef structures from ocean minerals.
Structures woven from metal strands are well-suited for electrolysis; the tight contact from the weave provides complete connectivity without the need for welding.
You can find more of the partners and institutions collaborating with this project here