Zoom in on this satellite image of South Korea’s southern coast and you’ll notice the grid-like patterns in the water are made up of hundreds of little rectangles. These are seaweed fields, held by ropes and buoys that keep them close to the surface during high tide and off the seafloor during low tide.

Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey

Below is a close-crop of the image up top. Writing for NASA Earth Observatory, Adam Voiland provides more details on what it is we’re seeing:

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image of seaweed cultivation in the shallow waters around Sisan Island on January 31, 2014. Home to a thriving aquaculture industry, the south coast of South Korea produces about 90 percent of the country’s seaweed crop.

...Since 1970, farmed seaweed production has increased by approximately 8 percent per year. Today, about 90 percent of all the seaweed that humans consume globally is farmed. That may be good for the environment. In comparison to other types of food production, seaweed farming has a light environmental footprint because it does not require fresh water or fertilizer.

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Below you’ll find the full, zoomable image of the region, courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory. If you’re up for a little exploring, you can spot these seaweed fields on Google Maps, as well.

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H/t Colossal


Contact the author at rtgonzalez@io9.com.

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