May 13, 2008 at 4:25 pm #470
If Sea Steaders are going to create a sustainable, complete lifestyle, some thought must be given to not only engineering, of mechanical systems, of setting up a biological system alongside it that allows for growing food, and maintaining physical and mental health. there are several categories to the habitat:
- terrestiral plants
- terrestrial animals
- aquaculture- marine plants
- Marine animals
- Avian life
- Terrestrial plants may never achieve the biodiversity of a natural island, much less that of a continental mass, and it will be difficult to choose a robust and diverse ecology on the limited surface pace of a seastead. However, by paying close attention to the eco-systems of the closest analgos we might see more success. Plants which grow in estuary areas (appropriate to the approximate lattitudes of your particular sea stead’s range), and smaller island are likely to be more successful in the environment we’ll have, which will be heavily influenced by the sea. Plants which tolerate brackish and high-mineral areas are good candidates. Mangroves, and coconut palms for example might help provide stabilization for new artificial island efforts, or artificial atoll breakwaters, and also provide habitat for some of our animal species.
- Terrestrial animals will be difficult, as they typical require a lot of eco-infrstructure under them to support them, given the long sexual reproduction cycle of most larger animals, and the requirements for large ranges to support them. Probably more appropriate to artifical islands and not so much to sea steads, except perhaps as one-off purchase of larger animals to be raised for slaughtr in the same generation. It seems impractical to breed herds of anything. smaller animals might be kept for breeding cycles, but would require lots of outside resrouces both bfor the husbandry and sexual diversity of breeding stock.
- The sea stead and artifical island concept both provide a lot more opportunities for aquaculture and far more incentive than any such human endeavour in the past. Many marine plants have lots of mineral and nutritional value- the challenge will probably be to harvest in quantity in a sustainable manner, and more importantly, making it tasty. No one wants to eat compressed seaweed cakes 3 meals a day, no matter how nutritious and full of minerals they may be.
- Marine animals will undoubtedly form the bulk of the sea-steaders diet, with various fish being at the top of the list. It’s quite possible to culture large beds of shellfish, fish farming is already a large-scale commercial enterprise (though many concerns about disease among fish farms and genetic diversity remain). Many cultures have harvested marine mammals for food and other products as well, and undoubtedly some sea steaders will choose to do so. Again, the sea steader will have not only a unique circumstance and opportunity to improve upon tradidional sea harvesting techniques as well as trying new technologies, but also a far greater incentive to do so, with fewer economical options that the traditional land dweller, even those who have lived upon marginal or small land masses.
- Depending on locations. migratory birds may be harvestable. Many seabirds are not considered particularly edible or useful for commercial applications, but seasteader still have that extra incentive.
In addition to the comestible and commercial value of a thriving and diverse eco-system, human beings typically just need the evidence of other life around them to be happy. A seastead made of minimal scrap might prove a technical point of feasibility and sustain life, but not a lifestyle.May 13, 2008 at 8:22 pm #1991
. . . might be a good source of protein. They’re small, breed quickly, and their food should be fairly easy to import and store. In addition, they are generally grass eaters, so it might be possible to raise them on a diet of seaweed and/or algae.May 14, 2008 at 12:53 pm #1992
Other small semi-aquatic animals like capybara perhaps? And pigs can eat pretty much anything- perhaps a specific breed could be located or developed.May 15, 2008 at 10:03 am #2001
AMW: I’d rather eat rabbits than guinea pigs 😉 They too can digest cellulose so they feed with decent efficiency, breed just as fast (if not faster) and they probably taste much better – in my culture there are several common recipes for accomodating their meat. And their fur is valuable.May 15, 2008 at 2:03 pm #2004
I’m with Jesrad. Rabbits best guinea pigs in both cuteness and tastiness.May 15, 2008 at 11:25 pm #2005
Rabbits are so lean you could literally starve to death on a diet of wild bunnies.May 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm #2074
May 21, 2008 at 1:09 pm #2172
- Self-sustenance is incredibly expensive, so for starters it will only be practiced for political reasons. Which is fine, if you´re willing to make a lot of sacrifices.
- I say import everything that you can´t make cheaper by yourself. Of course in some vital areas like drinking water and power there might be a good point to have some backup systems for emergencies.
I’m coming back to pigs. They are omnivorous and not too picky, so can be fed with a lot of different byproducts:
- leavings from fish processing- guts, bones, fish meal
- leftover table scraps
- Copra meal
- bone meal and leavings from processing other livestock, or marine mammals
- sugar cane
Pig manure has also been quite successfully used for methane production. Pigs don’t mind getting wet, so it’s easy to flush their pens with water to remove and transport waste.May 22, 2008 at 2:22 pm #2254
Hydroponic gardens have a significant history of success and are a well developed technology. They would be an ideal means of growing food on a seastead to supplement foodstuffs drawn from the sea.
“He who does not risk, cannot win.” — John Paul JonesMay 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm #2304
… for the open ocean. Depending on where you locate you Seastead, there could be very diverse or very sparse marine life. But there may be solutions to the latter:
On the other hand, think what happens to the Seacrete Island building idea when you start pulling all the minerals out of an area of ocean, enough minerals to actually form an island deposited from what’s originally dissolved in sewater. Watery deserts indeed.May 24, 2008 at 10:15 am #2347May 24, 2008 at 10:14 pm #2364
It is going to be fun figuring out what the right mix is. I suspect that chickens are going to be a common form of protein (eggs and meat.) It is going to a quite a while before we get to the point where there is enough food generated locally to support the local population.May 26, 2008 at 5:26 am #2406
Sus scrofa are mangrove-dwelling pigs that have been domesticated in Southeast Asia. I think they might be suitable. –JoelMay 26, 2008 at 5:44 am #2407
The minerals needed for building an island (Ca, Si) don’t seem to be the ones that are too scarce to support life (Fe, P). Drawing up deep water and pulling some of the minerals out would probably be a net win for the local ecosystem. Imported minerals (especially Fe) might have fairly noticeable consequences. But nitrogen is quite energy-intensive to fix, and is a macronutrient, so I don’t expect a huge nitrogen effect from the first few seasteaders. -JoelMay 26, 2008 at 5:58 am #2405
thebastidge has me imagining a semi-submerged habitat on barges that ring the central structure, with channels between in the style of Xochimilco. There would be a fairly wide ring of mangrove swamps, and then an inner ring of mangrove forests. Not sure how to make this cost-effective as a breakwater (perhaps chinampa methods could be adapted to make gardens that literally float?), but the possibilities are intriguing. – Joel
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