Beneath the surface of the Salish Sea, there are hundreds of species of seaweeds growing. They provide habitat and nutrition for many forms of marine life. In Sooke, just west of Victoria in British Columbia, one entrepreneur has developed a line of skin-care products made from foraged kelp.
“Part of my job is to really improve that and to have people understand this coastline,” she says as she stands in the tide pools on her local beach, surrounded by buckets of plant material in diverse colors and textures.
We see bright green sea lettuce and bubbly rockweed, large sheets of chocolate colored leaves and iridescent Iridaea cordata that shimmers blue in the light. Bernard shows off the bounty collected, swiftly correcting any disparaging descriptions of the wild ingredients that power her company.
“We don’t call it slimy, we call it gelatinous,” she said. “That gelatinous material is actually extremely healthy and clean,” adding that Seaflora has earned USDA organic certification on the foraged seaweeds they use.
Known in many circles as “The Seaweed Lady,” Bernard has become a kind of ambassador for the ecosystem and the plant life it supports.
“Here in the Salish Sea, we have one of the most diverse seaweed ecosystems in the world, and we have upwards of 600 different species here,” she said. “The entire British Columbia coastline, from the US border through to the Alaskan border is extraordinary. It has huge tonnage of seaweed."
To see more photos and read more about Bernard's connection to the Salish Sea, visit our Return To The Salish Sea website.