BELFAST — Belfast Area High School students and staff of the Belfast Marine Institute have been hard at work growing seaweed.

They have been preparing several seawater aquaria for a kelp nursery to grow the seaweed, complete with an appropriate lighting system, filters, chillers, insulation and pumps, according to a press release from teacher Charles “Chip” Lagerbom.

Belfast Marine Institute student Laney Scheafe and teacher Chip Lagerbom assemble the lighting system for a kelp nursery aquarium. Courtesy of David Thomas

In the marine studies class, students are supporting this effort by working with kelp recently collected by BMI divers. In the lab, students carefully separate and clean the sorus tissue from the rest of the blade. This tissue will produce spores that collect and then grow on spools of twine immersed in the seawater tanks.

BMI staff Dave Thomas and Jessica Woods look over kelp collected off Beauchamp Point in Rockport. Courtesy of Charles H. Lagerbom

The growing process should take about 7-8 weeks, at which point the kelp on the spools will be transplanted out to three 400-foot lines at the school’s kelp farm off City Park. There it will continue to grow until harvested next March.

For more information about the school’s BMI program and opportunities, visit bahsmarineinstitute.rsu71.org.

Wild kelp being collected by scuba divers off Beauchamp Point in Rockport. Courtesy of Charles H. Lagerbom