Ikea put a salt block in the front room and found a way to grow up to 4.5m more furniture. Scientists in Massachusetts are working on the same idea for living fish, collecting larvae at sea and growing them in tiny salt blocks.
Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole have been working on the technique since 2014. They are harvesting larvae from the deep ocean and painstakingly harvesting them from the mud of submarine lake beds. They cut away the entire egg sac, just over 2mm in diameter, and transfer them into a hydrogel chamber which stops them leaving the water and keeping them fresh, before wrapping them in plastic and releasing them from the vessel, which remains underground for nine months.
The research team, led by Neil Raifman, tests and polishes the plastic every six weeks to make sure the new growth remains healthy.
“The idea is that it essentially allows the new fish to grow back out of its shell so you don’t get it affected by increasing temperatures or oxygen that’s associated with above-seas growth,” Raifman told BBC News.