The Mother of the Sea festival

Kathleen Drew-Baker, mother of the sea and seaweed saviour

Updated 31-03-2017

A discovery in Wales...

Kathleen Drew-Baker (1901-1957) never visited Japan, but every year a festival is held on April 14th commemorating her role in reviving Japan's nori industry.

Drew-Baker discovered a special phase in the life cycle of a red seaweed, Porphyra Umbilcalis, on the North Wales coastline in the 1940s. It was picked up by chance 6000 miles away from her lab in Manchester.

...saves a suffering nori industry

Today, Drew-Baker's findings are the basis of the modern nori (Porphyra Laciniata) industry in Japan.

In 1948, nori farming was suffering fallout from several typhoons and increasingly polluted waters. Farmers didn't know how to grow nori to replenish stocks.

Dr Drew-Baker's research enabled the seaweed farmers to turn this nutrient-rich food stuff from a gambler's harvest into a reliable large scale crop, by seeding spores on strings.

This is still the basis of the industry today, and dried nori is what you find wrapped around sushi all over the world.

Let's celebrate with sushi

A monument to Kathleen was erected in 1963 at the Sumiyoshi shrine in Uto City in Kumamoto, Japan.

In the Mara office we celebrate 'Mother of the Sea' with a sushi lunch, made by the amazing Mara Maids and overseen by Sushi Maestro, Mara Man.

Mara's homemade sushi for Mother of the Sea Festival


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