A ‘women’s pastime’ practised by Queen Victoria, ‘seaweeding’ spread from the UK to California – now the samples are providing a glimpse into history
On his first day as the new science director for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California in 2016, a giant blue storage locker caught Kyle Van Houtan’s eye. The locker was obscured by a dead ficus plant and looked as if no one had opened it for years. But the label on it intrigued him: Herbarium.
He opened it and inside found hundreds of stacked manila envelopes. Each one contained a single piece of seaweed, pressed and preserved on white paper.