Marine Organisms used in Everyday Products

Marine Organisms used in Everyday Products
Photo by Caleb Kastein / Unsplash

Marine organisms are not just used for food, many of them are also used in everyday products. Some of the marine organisms that are used in everyday organisms are algae, kelp, horseshoe crabs, and sponges.

Carrageenan is an extract from algae that is used as a thickening agent in the food industry. You might be able to find it in your toothpaste. Dawson Turner, the person who first wrote about the algae that carrageenan came from did some tests on it, finally resulting in boiling it in a pot to find out what happened. To his surprise, the seaweed melted and then later thickened into gelatin. He was astonished and concluded that he hoped the information was useful because he could not find out what to do with the gelatin.

An extract from kelp is often used to make shampoo, conditioners, and even toothpaste!

An aerial shot of a kelp forest in Northern California

An extract from the horseshoe crab (its blood) is used to test if vaccines are safe. Their blood is very sensitive to invading bacteria, and when it is detected, the blood clots to protect the rest of the crab from infection. This is important to test if vaccines are safe; if the blood clots up, contamination is present, and they cannot ship the vaccine.

Horseshoe Crab

Sea sponges are sometimes used to replace synthetic ones, they are softer and better for the environment, but they decay faster and will not last you as long as a synthetic one.

These are just some examples of marine organisms used in everyday products. If you look closely at the ingredients section, you might find some of the chemicals extracted from these in your toothpaste or shampoo!

EDIT as of 8/17/23

if you're here from easy peasy curriculum, GL with the rest of the school year 😄