Students at Deep Bay Marine Station

Urchin Tank

The Seaweed Challenge is a term-long project that brings together multiple disciplines, including microbiology and culinary students, to collaborate on developing fermented seaweed products. The main objective of this unique innovation challenge is to create safe and delicious fermented products that have the potential to be transformed into marketable food items.

The Urchin Tank serves as the exciting culmination of The Seaweed Challenge. It is a competition styled after Dragon's Den, where participating student teams present their developed seaweed products to a panel of judges from the seaweed industry, known as the "Urchins." During the event, the judges offer valuable feedback to the teams and express their interest in potentially advancing the products to the next stage: Commercialization. This event offers an excellent platform for the post-secondary students to showcase their research and creations, and potentially pave the way for bringing their innovative seaweed products to the market.

Urchin Tank 2023 Sponsorship Deck

Urchin Tank winners


The Project

The 2022 Seaweed Challenge was the first collaborative project between microbiology and culinary students where they were tasked with creating fermented seaweed products with Sargassum (an invasive species) and Bull Kelp – both raw ingredients were harvested here in BC and donated by industry. Students took part in an initial experiment that helped them decide on the quantities of seaweed needed for their products to be successful, and to help them understand the impact seaweed has on the fermentation project.

Over the course of the fall semester, teams of microbiology and culinary students developed 5 unique products to showcase at the final event.

Students during the Seaweed lab

Urchin Tank posters

The Urchin Tank

Students pitched their products and experiments on stage to the panel of industry judges, who provided them with feedback on their products and ultimately provided them with a score.

Event Program

Category Winners:

People’s Choice went to Team 5 (Eye of Fire),
Most Sensory Appeal to Team 4 (Pelagic Pickled),
Most Marketable to Team 4, and
Most Innovative tied between Teams 2 (Jerkyweed Paste) and 4.

The coveted Urchin Cup went to Team 4 for their product’s overall excellence.

Urchin cup and judges

The Urchins

A huge thank you to our 2022 Urchin Tank Judges, we could not have done it without your support throughout the project.

Kelper Romero

Kelper Romero
North Pacific Kelp

An extraordinary person of many talents, Kelper is a seaweed entrepreneur, a certified diver, a cinematographer, a citizen scientist and speaks 6 languages. Committed to sustainability and respecting Haida people and their territories, Kelper hand-harvests kelp and processes it into value added products for distribution around the world.

Jordan White

Jordan White
NAAS Foods

Armed with experience working in the local marine environment, Jordan is a passionate advocate for our oceans. As a co-founder and owner of NAAS Foods, he is on a mission to create innovative food products made from regenerative aquatic resources. NAAS makes foods that are convenient, delicious and most importantly, good for the planet.  

Majid Hajibeigy

Majid Hajibeigy
Canadian Pacifico Seaweeds

An “Ecopreneur” Majid’s expertise lies in bridging the scientific and farming communities with the goal of developing ecosystem-service providing, food production systems. As the Founder of Canadian Pacifico Seaweeds, Majid is applying his passions for sustainability while developing seaweed-based solutions for major global issues. 

Seaweed Challenge Group Shot

Student Teams

Team 1

Sydney Aird, Shen Chiu, Krystyn Forbes, Jin Hawkes, Kyle Whittmore 


A two-in-one product: a kimchi-inspired seaweed-based marinade and seasoning

Microbio student holding seachi product

Team 2

Rania Ben Aoun, Jayden Flesher, Chloe Shamash-McLaughlin, Ashish Thankachan, Chuhan Zhang 

Jerkyweed Paste

A spicy paste that tastes sargastic

Jerkyweed Paste

Team 3

Janine Garcia, Rachel McDonald, Rachel Qiu, Victoria Rokhinson, Owen Sullivan, Harry Yin 


A West Coast inspired fermented salsa made with locally sourced seaweed


Team 4

Brooke Chapman, Lupin Le, Hannah Sadler, Rian Tapp, Alexandra Wiebe, Nicole Williams 

Pelagic Pickles  

Versatile pickled seaweed base that can be used in a variety of products including salad dressing, Caesar cocktails, and as a garnish


Pelagic Pickled

Team 5

Samuel Detillieux, Savannah Hahn, Theo Sham, Liam Surry, Shou Tatsuzuki, Ryan Waatainen

Eye of Fire: Sargassum Hot Sauce 

A tangy hot sauce made with our very own local Japanese Sargassum that has a nice strong kick to it. 

Sargassum Hot sauce


Dr. Andrew Loudon

Dr. Andrew Loudon, Microbiology

Andy specializes in microbial ecology. Specifically, he is interested in how bacterial communities assemble and function. This ranges from investigating the bacteria in fermented veggies that make them safe to eat and tasty to the bacteria living in oysters that make oysters resistant to pathogens. He is keenly interested in food fermentation and applying his and his students’ knowledge to produce safe and delicious food. Andy is very excited to work with CSI and Culinary to provide students with real-world learning opportunities. 

Daniel Ross

Chef. Daniel Ross, Culinary Arts

Chef Ross is an experienced Red Seal Chef, culinary instructor and SAIT graduate. He believes strongly in supporting local food production and exposing students to broad food industry opportunitiesDaniel embraced the opportunity to involve his students in the Seaweed Challenge and is already looking forward to the next CSI challenge! 

Debra Hellbach Urchin Tank

Debra Hellbach, CSI

As a food evangelist, Debra believes everyone should understand the importance of producing food and incorporates this philosophy into her work at CSI. Debra loves engaging with students and is thrilled to be able to share their creativity through public events like the URCHIN TANK. 

Olivia Alexander Urchin Tank

Olivia Alexander, CSI

A marine scientist, passionate about science communication, Olivia is well suited as “jill of all trades” at CSI. She loves to work with students to help them communicate their results to broader audiences. A natural innovator with amazing organizational skills, Olivia has been instrumental in bringing the URCHIN TANK to the stage.