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Seaweeds in mythology, folklore, poetry, and life

Article This review traces myths, legends and some poetry influenced by macroalgae over the ages, and describes some of the early uses of seaweeds by humankind across the globe.

Seaweeds have been around since well before the dawn of mankind and have had varying degrees of influence on societies throughout history. Today, they have a well-established position of value after much scientific endeavour and commercialisation of applications. In the distant past, however, seaweeds were seen as a fundamental component of the sea and the beings associated with it, and they also held an essential connection to the land and the people who dwelt there. In the absence of science, myths and legends typically prevailed, and in the case of seaweed science today, many kernels of truth have now been exposed.

This review traces myths and legends and some poetry which has been influenced by macroalgae over the ages, and it describes some of the early uses of seaweeds by humankind across the globe. With such a prominent role in the minds and imaginations of story tellers, artists, musicians, and poets, seaweeds command a position of respect in the evolution of ecological goods and services. While not stricly scientific, the information reviewed and laid out in this article underpins some of those uses of seaweeds that have now been established following thorough evidence-based research. Such research leads to a myriad of values of the goods and services rendered by seaweeds and their extracts, providing significant benefits to mankind, both currently, and into the future. Seaweeds were around well before the Anthropocene and are very likely to survive and contribute to global survival much longer than this current epoch. 

Read the full article by José Lucas Pérez-Lloréns, Ole G. Mouritsen, Prannie Rhatigan, M. Lynn Cornish, and Alan T. Crichley here.

Mentioned in the article

Head of center, professor, DSc, University of Copenhagen

Dr Ole G. Mouritsen is the head of centre in Taste for Life and head of the Gastrophysics focus area. He is a professor in Gastrophysics and Food Innovation at the Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen.

He is an expert in bio- and gastrophysics with a special focus on mediation of the natural sciences to the general population through knowledge about food and taste.