Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Project Proposal Fall 2010: Maui Invasive Seaweed Collection, Eradication and Experimentation

Maui Invasive Seaweed Collection, Eradication and Experimentation


Yesterday in my oceans 101 class, our project proposals were due. We could pick anything we wanted to do a project on. It could have been anything from a small local project to a large scale national or even international project.
I picked a small scale local project and I named it Invasive Seaweed Collection, Eradication and Experimentation.
We had to cover an introduction, our methods and materials we would need and use, references and an estimated budget.




[In short, I wanted to go to 2 different places here on Maui where invasive seaweed takes over. Oluwalu has a huge problem with Acanthophora spicifera (known as the Spiky seaweed.)



And Kihei has a huge problem with Hypnea musciformis (known as the Hook seaweed.)


These invasive seaweeds smother the native coral and spread easily through fragmentation.

Meaning that if a small piece breaks off of one piece, that small broken piece, will grow into another piece. Thus, allowing the seaweed to grow rapidly.

Since they are alien invasive seaweeds, they have no natural predators to keep the count in check. So the only "natural" predator would be humans.
I basically wanted to collect these invasive seaweeds and see if they can be successfully turned into compost and feed for livestock such as chickens or even cows.]

The following is my proposal:

Maui’s coral reefs are in quick decline and one major contributing factor to this is alien invasive seaweeds. They break easily, grow quickly and smother the native coral.
They come to Maui through water currents, contaminated scuba gear, the ballast water of boats and ships and from grazing turtles and fishes. Many invasive types of seaweed are able to spread so fast because of their fragmentation, which allows them to grow quickly from broken pieces.
They grow quickly in Maui waters not only because of their fragmentation ability, but because they have no natural predators to consume them and keep the invasive seaweed population down.

Acanthophora spicifera and Hypnea musciformis are two such invasive seaweeds that seem to cause the most problems with smothering the coral. Acanthophora spicifera fragments easily and grows quickly. Hypnea musciformis, also known as the Hook seaweed, hooks onto other seaweeds and coral and fragments and spreads just as fast as Acanthophora spicifera. Although turtles do seem to like to eat the Hypnea, so it keeps the Hypnea count down somewhat. But, since these two invasive seaweeds really have no natural predators, the only “natural” predator would be humans. Humans who understand the impact these invasive seaweeds have on our native coral.

Collecting the invasive seaweeds off the shore and reefs would significantly reduce the invasive species count and help the coral gain back some of its vitality. There have been beach clean ups where volunteers and other such people go snorkeling and eradicate what they can. But I never found out what they did with the collected seaweed after.

My two main objectives with this project would be to experiment with Acanthophora spicifera and Hypnea musciformis. I want to see how well these two types of invasive seaweeds do if they were collected and used as fertilizer for gardens and feed for livestock.

To achieve this, I would first go to Oluwalu where Acanthophora spicifera has taken over almost the entire coral population and to Suda beach in Kihei where Hypnea musciformis takes over the shoreline.
I’d collect 50 gallons each (417 lbs) of the invasive seaweed using an iron puddy knife and a diver’s bag and then separating it into 5 gallon buckets. I would reuse 20 twenty pound dog food bags and distribute the seaweed evenly amongst the bags, also adding in collected leaves from either my backyard or even my neighbor’s backyard and using these ingredients as compost. (I chose used dog food bags because it helps keep trash out of the landfill and it is easier to turn the compost in smaller quantities.) It would also save a little on water since the collected seaweed already has some water within it. Water is also a key ingredient to making good compost.

I’d need a small green house area where I can store the compost bags and wait for the ingredients to decompose. I would then have to wait about a month for the seaweed and other ingredients to break down into useable compost.

(Local farmers sometimes spend hundreds of dollars on fertilizer and compost. So why spend all that money on expensive mainland compost when they could be getting free compost from our ocean.)

Another small goal I would like to achieve would be to see if farm animals like it as feed. I can achieve this by catching a couple of stray chickens and keeping them at the same greenhouse area that I would the keep compost, in a chicken hutch.

I could experiment which seaweeds they like best by recording what they eat when I mix the seaweed in with their feed. If it seems like they don’t mind eating the seaweed, I’d then feed them only the seaweed seeing if it could prove as a useful staple for them. I would of course keep a record of what seaweeds they ate most of, their weight and any factors that may prove unhealthy.
(An added on outcome to experimenting with the chickens is that chicken manure is great for farmers. Chicken manure is actually in high demand for farmers because of its high nitrogen levels. So, even the chicken manure wouldn’t go to waste. It can be used in the making of compost.)

My dad used to raise chickens and the cost of chicken feed could get expense when bought on a monthly basis. So if these two invasive seaweeds could be used as compost and/or feed for local farmers, it could significantly reduce the invasive seaweed count, help the native coral gain back its vitality and also help farmers save money.

The final report would consist of two tables. The first table would show what I collected, how many pounds of it, the date I collected it and the start and end time of my collection day.



The second table would show the ounces of feed I give the chickens and the amount of seaweed I mix in with the feed.


For the final report, I would also take pictures of before the clean up and after the clean up. Pictures of the amount of seaweed collected and pictures of post compost production and after.

References:

-Maczulack, Anne 2010. Waste Treatment: Reducing Global Waste, Facts on File Inc., New York, NY Pg. 132

-Chapman, V.J. 1970. Second edition Seaweeds and Their Uses. The Camelot Press Ltd., London and Southampton. Pg. 14 – Pg. 20

-Chapman, V.J. 1970. Second edition Seaweeds and Their Uses. The Camelot Press Ltd., London and Southampton. Pg. 110, Table 31: Indonesian Food Algae

-Franklin Sylva. Information on chickens.

Budget:
Snorkel: $25
Iron putty knife: $10
Boogie board: $25
Chicken hutch: $152
Fins: $30
Gas: $100
Chicken feed: $45
Diver’s gloves: $35
Scale: $25
Total: $442

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