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New Wave Foods
New Wave Foods

Plant-Based ‘Shrimp’ Is Vegan, Kosher, and Surprisingly Convincing

New Wave Foods
New Wave Foods

Pull over, shrimp: It’s algae’s turn in the breading lane. A new shrimp substitute, made of red algae, offers a delicious alternative for foodies concerned about the ethical implications of buying the real stuff.

And those “ethical implications” aren't just about eating animals. They are also concerns about environmental destruction, shocking amounts of bycatch (we lose up to 20 pounds of other sea creatures to catch one pound of shrimp), human trafficking, and slave labor.

Enter New Wave Foods, a start-up co-founded by marine conservationist Dominique Barnes and materials scientist Michelle Wolf. Recognizing that our love for popcorn shrimp is not going to go away any time soon, the two decided to find a way to make it more sustainable.

Engineered animal products are currently having a moment. Between lab-grown meat and the myriad plant-based substitutions appearing in supermarket freezers, consumers seem more open than ever to the idea of eating meat that’s never been anywhere near an animal, and food scientists have gotten pretty good at replicating the real thing.

Also having a moment? Algae. Researchers have really begun to recognize the diverse potential of these aquatic plants, which are already being considered as alternatives to jet fuel and plastic bottles. In the wild, algae also serves as the base of many food chains. In fact, algae is the reason flamingos are pink—they feed on shrimp, which feed on red algae.

So when it came time for Barnes and Wolf to find raw materials for their planet-friendly shrimp, algae seemed like, ahem, a natural choice. They developed a recipe that combines red algae’s rosy hue and briny flavor with plant protein powders, which give the shrimp its chewy snap.

Image Credit: New Wave Foods

“We’re not reproducing shrimp cells,” Barnes told The Atlantic. “We use a process that's similar to baking a loaf of bread.”

The company has found enthusiastic support from both investors and potential customers. Google’s employee cafeteria has already sampled the product and intends to start serving it as soon as it’s available, which could be as soon as fall 2016.

Barnes and Wolf expected their product to catch on among ethically conscious eaters. They didn’t consider that it might also be a huge hit on the kosher market. Kosher law prohibits eating any sea creature without fins and scales, which means that people who have kept kosher all their lives have never eaten shrimp. However, some rabbis argue that eating something that looks like shrimp is still a bad idea.

With buy-in from backers, consumers, and, presumably, shrimp themselves*, New Wave Foods may have just found a tartar-sauce-worthy solution.

*No shrimp were available for comment on this article.

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Google
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Animals
Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View
Google
Google

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.
Google

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]

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Josh Cassidy/KQED
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Animals
Watch Decorator Crabs Collect and Carry Costumes
Josh Cassidy/KQED
Josh Cassidy/KQED

Decorator crabs live off the California coast, among other places. They create their own camouflage by grabbing little bits of seaweed and shells, then hooking that stuff to their shell using Velcro-like hooks called setae. On occasion, these crabs even hook living anemones onto their shells, creating a tiny moving habitat.

In this video from Deep Look, we get to see decorator crabs up close (indeed, in 4K resolution). The best part is the "moss crab," which is delightfully hairy. Have a look:

If video isn't your thing, read this writeup from KQED Science.

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