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Nature Notes - A sea weed diet could help our oceans

Last year I described the situation in Bantry Bay following our visit where locals were fighting off a multi national outfit which was threatening the livelihoods of local kelp farmers whose small scale ventures do not threaten the long term ecology of the bay.

A familiar take of politicians succumbing to the persuasions of big business.

And so back to our precious coastline, this time not Snettisham but good ole’ reliable “Sunny Hunny” and that wonderful stuff we take for granted, sea weed. Why do not we eat more sea weed?

Our Sunny Hunny ramble took place in less than ideal conditions, rather a forbidding grey sky. My clumsy footfall on a slippery patch of sea weed wrenched my left ankle.

Being a typical man of course the pain exceeded anything like natural childbirth and Senora Cox was forced to assist my hobbling to that wonderful fish and chip joint where all streetwise oldies tuck into the Senior’s Special.

I came across a report last autumn from lecturers at the Open University and Bristol University, on the theme of the conservation of fish stocks.

The report urged that we consider seriously the idea of farming seaweed and algae. For example, growing more seaweed lowers the amount of CO2 in the surrounding water, reduces acidification, and improves the environment for oysters and other shellfish.

Managing seaweed harvests correctly will also maintain the dissolved oxygen and nutrient levels in the water, contributing to the overall health of the ocean. But sticking with our traditional salmon and tuna diet isn’t sustainable.

Expanding our seafood menus could be a vital way of keeping the ocean healthy while it supplies the food we need.

The rising temperature that we all crave after the winter gloom will as you read this will be urging on all manner of plant growth. Birdlife will be obvious as songsters compete for territory. Our local mistle thrushes have been vocal since late January.

Rather than temperature birds are spurred on by daylight. Increasing daylight will be working its magic upon endocrine systems to produce hormonal activity.

I confess to being one of those people prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder though not as badly affected as some folk who resort to artificial indoor sunlight. This can be seriously debilitating.

A report from Meteo France describes how January was a grim month, as if we did not know, with 62 hours of sunshine for London. Spare a thought for some European cousins.

Frankfurt scored only 50 hours while Helsinki records only 38 hours. Paris scored 63 hours, Athens notched up 158, what a lovely thought. Moscow recorded only six minutes of direct sunlight for December. I wonder if this might account for the grim nature of President Putin?

This report noted that many people feel the need to consume more sugar and fat during winter, which is my excuse. Unfortunately in my case this remains a year-round feature.

And so with March I have to mention Senora Cox’s favourite mammal, the brown hare. A report in the Lynn News on 30 January noted yet another rogue hare courser had been caught by local police. The brown hare’s northern cousin is the Scottish Mountain or “blue” hare.

I have only ever seen one truly white hare and alas that was about 35 years ago. My days of scaling the peaks of Hibernia are long since gone.

Viewers of a recent Countryfile will have been made aware of the controversy concerning the culling of blue hares in order to promote heather growth as cover for that vexed subject of driven grouse shoots. This is something that I feel very strongly about.

There is just enough space to squeeze in a brief garden report. So comforting to see so many spring bulbs in flower. The winter pansies I planted in autumn are lovely.

One of our blackbirds however became fixated on these, persistently uprooting those in a couple of containers. Reader’s comments on this are as ever welcome.


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