The Blanchisseuse Environmental Art Trust (BEAT) is an organisation closely aligned with the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Our Education and Outreach Officer, Kenneth Fournillier, is also the President of BEAT, and is involved with Community Outreach and Project Development among the Blanchisseuse community. The village sits on the coast at the end of the Arima Blanchisseuse Road, and is one of the better known birding areas for our visitors. The community also supplies us with our fresh fish, and soon might be providing us with Sea Moss.
“Sea Moss” is a popular health and restorative drink in the Caribbean. In Trinidad and Tobago it is made from special seaweed which grows along the underwater and tidal rock faces in the Blanchisseuse area of the North Coast. Sea Moss cultivation and marketing at the community and small entrepreneurial level provides a living for many persons who harvest and dry the seaweed before selling it to small shopkeepers who blend it with milk to sell as “Sea Moss Punch”. The particular moss for this drink is Gelidicius serrulatum which only grows on a stretch of coast between Las Cuevas and Toco. As demand created over-harvesting of the moss along this stretch of coast, BEAT, along with others, approached CANARI (Caribbean Natural Resources Institute) for help in developing a more sustainable “crop” of the moss. Working along with the Institute of Marine Affairs and others, BEAT began recording and assessing data on harvesting times and techniques in order to develop a more sustainable and constantly available “crop” of Sea Moss.
One of the important findings was that Sea Moss cut at its base grew back faster than sea moss pulled by its roots from the rock surfaces. Other practices were developed to enhance the regrowth of the moss, and the word was spread to other coastal communities, so that they could benefit from the knowledge gained. Sea Moss production is expected to increase through the North Coast, and parlours and restaurants expect a continuing supply to make and market the popular Sea Moss Punch islandwide.
Making Sea Moss Punch
- 1 lb dried Sea Moss
- 2 limes
- 250 ml packet evaporated milk
- 1 tin condensed milk
- 2 tsp. Angostura Bitters
- 1 stick cinnamon bark
- Water and sugar to consistency and taste
Clean the dried moss, then soak in lime juice for 12 hours (to remove the “fresh” taste), wash and boil with the cinnamon until the mixture becomes gelatinous. Remove the cinnamon and blend and strain. When cool, add the evaporated and the condensed milk, blend again with bitters, and add sugar to taste. Leave to cool and serve with ice.