Visit to Mexican university gives new insights into the fight against macro-algae

Søren Pallisgaard from BrainBotics visited a branch of Mexico’s largest university (UNAM) to discuss ongoing research on specifically  Sargassum, the floating macro-algae that is invading the coasts of many Caribbean countries.

Mexico is a frontrunner in the Caribbean region when it comes to handling the large masses of Sargassum, and the goal of the visit was to initiate a dialogue on future collaboration between our two organizations. By understanding what is being done in Mexico to combat this invasive macro-algae from a research perspective and what BrainBotics is working on from a technology perspective, new opportunities might see the light in the near future. 

The knowledge that Unidad Académica Sistemas Arrecifales (UASA) has on the subject can prove very important in a Danish and broader Baltic Sea region perspective, as the last five years has seen a lot of new and innovative methods for both identifying, surveying, pre-processing, collecting and not least the industrial end-use of Sargassum in Mexico. 

Besides using specialized drones for identifying and surveying the biomass, UASA focuses on the effect of the invasive Sargassum on the local delicate ecosystem of the Caribbean Sea and has ongoing dialogue and collaboration with many local businesses involved in the value chain in Mexico. A value chain that is more developed than it’s Danish counterpart within macro-algae and seagrasses.

UASA tracks the increase in Sargassum and decline in seagrasses that has been witnessed over the past decade, including making temporal surves of the various species, to see which species are dominant at which time of the year. In their work, UASA is currently developing and refining new methods for drying the biomass effeciently and in large scale using solar panels. 

The visit provided new insights for BrainBotics that will now be discussed with Danish partners and stakeholders to see if it would be viable to transfer the Mexican approaches to Denmark and the broader Baltic Sea region. The hope is that we too, on our side of the Atlantic, can grow our value chain and make more use of this readily available and sustainable bioresource as is already being done in Mexico.