Kelp Forest Regeneration
California has lost 90% of its kelp forests in the last 100 years. Caused by the proliferation of purple sea urchins, as their predators disappear from human impacts and climate change.
Clearing of "urchin barrens" allows rapidly growing kelp to make a healthy kelp forest in a few months. This creates habitat for marine life and sequesters carbon dioxide.
The fastest growing organism
Kelp grows 2 feet per day. Kelp forests provide habitat and food for over 700 species of algae, invertebrates, and fish.
HOW THIS PROJECT WORKS:
Kelp forests have declined 90% in the past 100 years
Southern California kelp ecosystems are out of balance from climate change and human impacts that removed key predators like sea otters and sunflower sea stars.
Sea urchins play a role in a healthy kelp forest, but can proliferate and create "barrens" where kelp cannot grow. These barrens are essentially permanent until they are removed.
Divers clear urchin barrens
When the urchins are removed, kelp can quickly grow back to its prior extent. Other urchin predators (fish, lobsters) can then keep the population in control.
Giant Kelp can grow 2 ft each day
In a matter of months, the kelp forests can recover in a cleared urchin barren.
Long term results
Projects monitored for five years
The Bay Foundation scientists monitor pre/post conditions at every dive site. After 5 years, the site is considered restored if the kelp forest is healthy and urchins are in balance.