ADELAIDE, Australia – Milking snails for anti-cancer drugs and harvesting seaweed for food are among the jobs of the future in South Australia, The Adelaide Advertiser reported.
The state is poised to make millions of dollars from marine discoveries, according to industry expert Professor Joe Baker.
"The sea is our future," he said. "Next decade is going to be the most exciting decade of discovery, of creation of new knowledge, providing challenges to developers and to governments."
A former director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Queensland, Baker is one of the founders of marine biotechnology in Australia.
This week he gave the first in a series of seminars on the potential for marine biotechnology in South Australia.
The Flinders Center for Marine Bioprocessing and Bioproducts is working on new drugs, super foods and cosmetics based on chemicals in seaweed, sea sponges, algae and even snails.
Biochemical engineer Susanne Zeile knows how to extract active ingredients from all kinds of plants and animals.
"There is still much to learn," she said. "Every time we walk along the beach we should keep an eye out for what we could use. There might be many other species like sponges or snails or different plants we could use."
Center Manager Raymond Tham said this is not just wishful thinking.
"Our coastline gives South Australia a competitive advantage due to high levels of biodiversity, with more than a thousand macro-algae species and hundreds of other fish and invertebrate species and very high levels of endemism [plants and animals unique to a geographical area]," he said.
"Yet, it remains Australia's least explored coastline in terms of marine biodiversity and ecology and its commercial potential."