Interview with Seaweed Harvester and Marine Biologist Amanda Swinimer

At Surf Soak, the ruggedly beautiful west coast is always our inspiration. 

We spoke with our seaweed harvester Amanda Swinimer about her inspiration to become a full time seaweed harvester (read: mermaid). Amanda's seaweed is found in our Seasalt & Seaweed Soak.

Surf Soak (SS): Tell me a little bit about Dakini Tidal Wilds and what drew you to become a seaweed harvester.

Amanda Swinimer: Several years ago, I headed down to the beach near Tugwell Creek with a book titled ‘Harvesting Wild Plants’, written by an Alaskan woman.  I had been wild-crafting herbs for eighteen years, and in this book there were several seaweeds included. Ever since I can remember, I have had a passionate love for the ocean and all things nautical. I had completed a degree in Marine Biology and studied ‘algae physiology’ but my true love was exploring the beach and practical ways of weaving the energy of the ocean into my life and those around me.  From that first day that I harvested my own seaweed, dried it and then ate it, I have never looked back. The coming together of my two passions, wild-crafting and the ocean, was a blessing that continues now and hopefully until I am an old lady.  

SS: How is seaweed harvested?

AS: The way seaweed is harvested, varies from species to species, but in general it is essentially pruning. Year after year I harvest seaweed and supply my local community year round, and I never have to sacrifice the life of any individual seaweed. I cut the blades, leaving enough new growth for them to continue growing, and will actually harvest from the same seaweed more than once in a season. Harvesting sub-tidal seaweeds involves snorkeling offshore, and the experiences I have had doing that have been truly amazing. I have seen a plethora of creatures and being among the kelp forests is an experience that enters the soul. Seeing our Pacific Northwest from this perspective makes me fully realize why our ocean has been referred to as ‘The Emerald Sea’.

SS: What are the benefits of using seaweed in bath and beauty products?

AS: The health benefits of seaweeds are obtained not just by consuming it, but by skin absorption as well. In fact, the best way to fully realize the myriad of healing properties from seaweeds is to do a combination of both. In a case study in the book ‘Seaweeds’ by Valery Cooksley (the details of which can be found on my website), a woman was able to stop taking her thyroid medication, which she had taken for 10 years, by bathing in seaweeds. She was not consuming them at all at this point. I am a personal friend of this woman, who has remained off of any thyroid medication now for fourteen years, and who now teaches about the health benefits of seaweeds.  Seaweeds are a very effective way of detoxing the body of some of the worst known toxins, including dioxins & certain heavy metals. Seaweeds also help rid the body of lactic acid and bathing in them or using beauty products with them can be a welcome relief after strenuous activity. Seaweeds have long been known, particularly in Japan, to promote beautiful lustrous hair, supple & clear skin and are considered the secret to looking youthful as one ages.  One of the most exciting areas of research today is seaweeds’ promising results in the potential prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer.

SS: Anything else you's like us to know about Dakini Tidal Wilds?

AS: Dakini Tidal Wilds’ first commitment is to sustainability.  My seaweeds are harvested by pruning, ensuring healthy seaweed gardens for years to come.  When I teach about seaweed harvesting, the central theme is sustainability and a reverence for the ecosystem where seaweeds grow.  When you support a business like this, you are really making a choice to ensure a healthy future, both for yourself and for the Earth.