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Undaria pinnatifida seaweed

A single Undaria pinnatifida seaweed

Undaria pinnatifida is a brown seaweed native to Japan. It was introduced to the Southern Hemisphere approximately 40 years ago via the ballast water of visiting freight ships. Today, Undaria thrives in the clean coastal waters of Tasmania and Patagonia. Marinova monitors the growth of Undaria and hand harvests substantial quantities of this introduced pest. The company produces high purity fucoidan from Undaria seaweed for both nutritional and skincare applications. 

Undaria inhabits the subtidal zone down to depths of approximately 20 metres. It is primarily found in sheltered reef areas which are subject to oceanic influence but not exposed to high wave action. Conditions such as temperature, light and depth are all important variables in the Undaria life cycle. Undaria seaweed can reach approximately 2 m in length in less than one year and growth rates can be up to 1 cm per day.

Undaria seaweed attaches itself to the ocean floor via a holdfast. Above the holdfast is a ruffled sporophyll, capable of producing up to 100 million spores which then settle on the seafloor and grow into new seaweed individuals. The cylindrical sporophyll, clearly visible in the image to the left, is commonly known as mekabu. It is widely utilised in Japanese cuisine and prized for being highly nutritious. It is also rich in fucoidan. 

Above the sporophyll, and extending up to 2m in length, is the blade. This leafy part of the Undaria seaweed is widely known as wakame. Wakame is widely used in Asian dishes, most commonly served in soups and salads.  

Undaria seaweed is hand-harvested by Marinova’s team of professional divers in accordance with world’s best practice. Harvesting occurs when the seaweed reaches the peak of its growth cycle, usually during springtime. Following harvest, the seaweed is checked for any foreign objects, such as shells and crustaceans, and the Undaria sporophyll is separated from the blade. Both the sporophyll and the blade are sun-dried to preserve the seaweed and its bioactive compounds – including fucoidan. Once dried, the seaweed is then prepared for Marinova’s proprietary fucoidan extraction process.

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