France | Brittany

The seaweed gatherer

Seaweed gatherers, known as goémoniers in French, harvest seaweed — the algae that inhabit Brittany’s coastal reefs. Seaweed is an essential component of agricultural fertilizer. Seaweed would be harvested at low tide, either on foot or using flat-bottomed boats also known as goémoniers. Permitted only during the hours when the lighthouse lights were off, seaweed gathering was particularly active in the Abers region. Seaweed kilns consisted of pits dug in the ground and lined with flat stones. Once burned, seaweed left a liquid residue in the bottom of the pit that hardened as it cooled. This would then be cut into blocks in order to extract the iodine.

[peinture #00030]
Seaweed Harvesters
Harvesting seaweed.
France, Brittany, Finistère, Plovan
Study, gouache, on Ingres paper
Credit: Frédéric Back
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