Arriving in Caluya you just cannot help but notice that the sea is covered in what looks like mini icebergs or salt pillars but the thousands of white objects are in fact polystyrene floats holding up the seaweed plants being cultivated all along the coast.
The typhoon Yolanda last November destroyed most of their crop and everyone is now working round the clock to make the most of the seaweed growing season until April when the winds change and the waves become bigger.
The younger children play with the sea weed and have lots of fun at sunset throwing it at each other 🙂
The islands around here have the perfect conditions for cultivating seaweed. Seaweed needs a sheltered condition with slight wave movement for growth and with the shallow waters and a kind of barrier reef protecting the plants from strong currents, the seaweed thrives providing a good alternative income to the fishermen of Caluya.
Seaweed farming is labour intensive and all the family is involved in the whole process.
The seaweed farmers grow the seaweed from seedlings and once it has grown enough the seaweed is taken out of the water to be recut and replanted on new lines or dried and bagged if it has grown enough for harvesting.
After the seaweed is taken from the water to be cut and retied on the lines it needs to be floated for a day or two in its natural condition to recover from the shock of being out of the water before it is strung out in lines again for growth.
After it is dried and bagged the seaweed is shipped to Cebu where it is then processed into Carrageenan which is used for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties and can be found in many products from food to toothpaste.