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Seaweed is a term used for several kinds of algae that live in the ocean. Red algae, Green algae and Brown algae are commonly considered to be seaweed. Seaweed gets its energy from photosynthesis just as plants do.
Another common requirement is a place to attach to. As a result, seaweeds are commonly found near the shore. Within that area, they are found more often on rocky shores than on sand or shingle. Seaweeds occupy a wide range of ecological niches. The highest elevation is only wetted by the tops of sea spray, the lowest is several meters deep. In some areas, seaweeds near the shore can extend several miles out to sea. The limit to how much they grow in such cases is based on how much sunlight there is. The deepest living seaweeds are the various kelps.
People living on the coast often eat seaweed, especially those in East Asia, such as Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is also used in Belize, Peru, the Canadian Maritimes, Scandinavia, Ireland, Wales, Philippines, and Scotland.
Tiwi, Albay residents discovered a new pancit or noodles made from seaweed. These have health benefits. Seaweed is rich in calcium and magnesium and seaweed noodles can be cooked into pancit canton, pancit luglug, spaghetti or carbonara.
In Asia, Zicai (紫菜) (in China), gim (in Korea) and nori (in Japan) are sheets of dried Porphyra used in soups or to wrap sushi. Chondrus crispus (commonly known as Irish moss or carrageenan moss) is another red alga used in producing various food additives, along with Kappaphycus and various gigartinoid seaweeds. Porphyra is a red alga used in Wales to make laver. Laverbread, made from oats and the laver, is a popular dish there. Affectionately called "Dulce" in northern Belize, seaweeds are mixed with milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla to make a common beverage.
Seaweeds are also harvested or cultivated for the extraction of alginate, agar and carrageenan, gelatinous substances collectively known as hydrocolloids or phycocolloids. Hydrocolloids have attained commercial significance as food additives. The food industry exploits their gelling, water-retention, emulsifying and other physical properties. Agar is used in foods such as confectionery, meat and poultry products, desserts and beverages and moulded foods. Carrageenan is used in salad dressings and sauces, dietetic foods, and as a preservative in meat and fish products, dairy items and baked goods.
- Lewis, J.R. 1964. The Ecology of Rocky Shores. The English Universities Press Ltd.
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- Ireland Taps New Energy Source : Discovery News : Discovery Channel
- Seaweed Biofuels: Production of Biogas and Bioethanol from Brown Macroalgae