MORE THAN 95% OF KELP FORESTS IN CALIFORNIA ARE GONE
WITH YOUR HELP WE CAN CHANGE THAT
Kelp stores/sequesters greenhouse gasses and mitigates the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.
Kelp forests provide food, nursery areas, and shelter to thousands of marine sea creatures. These creatures, such as red abalone and purple sea urchins, are invaluable to many local economies.
Kelp forests absorb nutrients such as nitrogen from the water making them available to a variety of species that feed on their blades.
Kelp forests help to prevent coastal erosion and filter pollutants from the water, ultimately protecting the shoreline.
SUNFLOWER SEA STAR
The sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides), a key predator within kelp forests, has been severely impacted by a disease known as sea star wasting disease. According to ecologists, this is disastrous because the sunflower sea star was an important predator and food source for many species. One immediate consequence of the sunflower star's removal from the ecosystem is that the sea urchin, one of the sunflower star's food sources, is quickly becoming overpopulated and is ravaging kelp forests.
PURPLE CARPET CRISIS
With the sunflower star dying out, purple sea urchin populations have exploded, covering the ocean floor in what divers describe as a “purple carpet”. The once lush kelp forests of seaweed that hugged the coastline are disappearing as a result of sea urchins devouring kelp. Urchins are a normal part of the kelp forests but the double whammy of ecological change and predator loss has allowed their population to inflate 10,000% in the last five years.
WHAT'S BEING DONE TO HELP
Scientists and divers are working hand in hand in hopes of saving kelp forests after an urchin boom and warming waters wiped out much of the underwater forest. They have also been investigating strategies to help protect kelp forests from sea urchin overgrazing. Their efforts involved removing urchins, bringing back predators, and utilizing humans as predators. Scientists are hoping that by implementing strategies like this, small pockets of kelp may begin to come back.