Researchers at the University of Maine have engineered golf balls that look and feel pretty much like, well, golf balls, except that these ones are made of lobster shells.
The biodegradable balls are intended for use on cruise ships, where hobby golfers whack hundreds of thousands of golf balls out to sea each year. Golf ball littering is a big problem on land, too: In the United States alone, an estimated 300 million balls are lost or discarded annually. Traditional golf balls take up to a millennium to decompose.
Biodegradable golf balls already exist, but the Mainers' version is the first to attack an additional problem by helping eliminate lobster waste.
"The University of Maine is a land grant institution, so we consider it our mission to serve the people and industries of the state," Neivandt told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. "Anything we can do to aid the lobster industry in particular is something the university considers an important part of its function, so we're trying to turn something from the industry's waste stream into a value added product."