Running Tide faces the departure of scientists and growing concerns

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“If we’re able to unlock growth in the open ocean, which we think is feasible, it has the potential to scale up to become quite large,” Odlin told MIT Technology Review last year.

But sources say early attempts to grow far offshore didn’t yield much kelp.

Running Tide’s external imaging system showed that the juvenile sugar kelp seeded on lines grew in the ocean, Odlin said in an email, adding that to the company’s knowledge, this had not been achieved before.

He admitted that “yield and consistency are not yet commensurate with what is required for large-scale carbon removal.” But he said the company hadn’t expected that yet and that some of the initial efforts focused on testing the company’s technical systems and implementation methods.

He and Justin Ries, senior scientific advisor at Running Tide, added that scientists already know that kelp will grow in the open ocean because there are varieties that do. They said the company will continue testing on small pilot scales until it identifies optimal species, locations and conditions.

“Nobody said this would be easy,” says Odlin, who notes that they work with complicated biological systems and a variety of macroalgae species. “Some are going to work really well; some are not; some will have a huge variance… that’s part of the system optimization that takes years.”

“It could take 30, 40 implementations to get to grips with and get this just right,” he says, adding that the company is still “a long way” from a “significant implementation.”

Departure

According to LinkedIn, Margaux Filippi, the director of ocean science, has been fired in recent months; Raj Saha, senior data scientist; Olivia Alcabes, data researcher; Jean Bertrand Contina, agronomy leader for macroalgae production; and Maxwell Calloway, senior kelp biologist. They did not respond to questions or declined to comment on this piece.

Most researchers left the company after less than a year and some after just six months, according to the career networking site.