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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The Ocean

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

What's the World Economic Forum doing about the ocean?

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

Have you read?

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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