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A useful seaweed.

Alifeline for many Irish families escaping the Potato Famine was provided by a small seaweed called Irish moss (Chondrus crispus). After one Irish emigrant recognised Irish moss while sea fishing near Boston he established Irish moss harvesting in Scituate, a coastal town in Massachusetts. It was an economic opportunity that drew around 100 Irish families to live there and work as ‘mossers’ raking Irish moss out of the sea and then drying it for sale. They used small boats with shallow drafts to row out and rake the seabed. It was considered man’s work until during the Depression Mim Flynn became the ‘Irish Mossing Queen’ as she rowed her own boat to work as a mosser while she was only nine years old. Mossing was an industry that kept growing as demand for products made using carrageenan extracted from Irish moss increased. During World War II, when imports of agar, gum arabica and tragacanth were cut off, carrageenan was used as a replacement, because it could be harvested along the Atlantic seaboard. Mossing also boomed in Canada. Along the shore of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia horses were used to pull rakes through the sea’s edge to collect Irish moss.

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