The Ocean

How scientists are working to restore the world’s embattled kelp forests

Kelp forests are one of the most extensive marine life plant habitats on Earth. Image: Unsplash/Shane Stagner

Elizabeth Devitt

Science writer, Freelancer

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Kelp forests are very dynamic, productive, complex ecosystems. Pictured: Bull kelp underwater. Image: Dan Hershman via Flickr

Increasing interest in farmed kelp could benefit wild kelp as scientists research what helps kelp species thrive. Image: Alex Berger via Flickr
Lessonia trabeculata is common along the coastline of Chile where brown algae is part of the world’s largest wild kelp harvesting operation. Image: Dick Culbert from Gibsons via Wikimedia Commons

Marine scientist Aaron Eger dives into a vibrant kelp forest of Ecklonia radiata. Image: Aaron Eger
Kelp forest restoration methods are often labor intense. Image: Cayne Layton
Bull kelp forest sites in southern Puget Sound are seeing significant ongoing decline. Image: Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Answers to why some kelp survive at higher temperatures may be encoded in bull kelp’s genetic make-up. Image: Cayne Layton
The impact of temperature and nitrate levels on bull kelp gametophytes is hard to study in nature as the kelp live on ocean bottoms. Image: Brooke Weigel
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Successful kelp forest restoration requires strategies to remove key stressors, such as too many sea urchins, pollution, sedimentation and over-harvesting. Image: Ed Bierman via Flickr
In a lot of circumstances kelp forest loss is caused by the human-induced degradation of the marine environment. Image: Karen Filbee-Dexter (A), Thomas Wernberg (B), Stein Fredriksen (C)
The ideal recipe for kelp forest restoration with green gravel: (A) Collect fertile plants from wild kelp; (B) Isolate reproductive tissue (sorus) to get zoospores; (C) Add spore solution to small rocks in trays; (D) Wait several weeks for small sporophytes to appear; (E) Scatter green gravel on a reef; (F) Watch the baby kelp grow. Image: Henning Steen, Institute of Marine Research, Norway
Increasing interest in farmed kelp could benefit wild kelp as scientists pursue fundamental knowledge about what helps kelp species thrive. Image: Derek Keats via Wikimedia Commons

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More data is needed to determine the biodiversity that comprises a healthy kelp forest ecosystem. Image: Claire Fackler, CINMS, NOAA, Flickr

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Related topics:

The OceanSDG 14: Life Below WaterBiodiversity

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