Book Tells the Story of Sea Mossing in Scituate, MA


Knee Deep in Seaweed: The Final Chapter 1960-1997 describes the unusual summertime occupation of gathering a certain type of nearshore algae known as Irish sea moss (Chondrus crispus) in a small coastal community approximately 30 miles south of Boston. Written by former Scituate-based sea moss harvester Hawk Hickok Hickman, the book describes the author’s discovery of this unique job and his total embracing of it for the better part of 25 years.

Sea mossing was brought to Scituate by Irish immigrants in the late 1800s. Recognizing the same underwater plant they had used to thicken their blanc mange pudding in Ireland, they knew that they could gather it and sell it to food manufacturers for its binding abilities. Soon a thriving industry developed as the local lads went out in their dories and daily gathered the moss each summer. Mossing became an integral part of the community, supplementing money made from lobstering, clamming and fishing. Mossing continued until 1997, when modern technology and foreign markets dictated an end to this unique coastal industry.

It’s a fascinating story, Hickman relates the history of “mossing” and reminisces about his youthful adventures through humorous anecdotes.

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