Green Harvest in South Korean Waters


Seaweed farms are a common sight in the shallow waters along the Korean Peninsula’s southern coast.

As international demand for seaweed rises, images like this one showing part of South Korea have become common. According to one estimate, the country now produces up to 1.7 million tons of seaweed each year.

When the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image on February 19, 2021, seaweed cultivation had left an obvious mark on many of the bays, inlets, and straits separating Wando County’s many small islands. The colors in the image have been enhanced; the patterns are all real, but certain shades and tones in the data have been separated and filtered to make water features more visible. In some places, the lighter and darker tones reflect the depth of the water (darker is deeper); in other places close to the coast, there may be some suspended sediment from rivers.

With its warm temperatures and modest tides, Wando County’s shallow waters offer an ideal environment for raising kelp, laver, and sea mustard.

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Image via NASA Earth Observatory