Tuesday March 26, 2024

NOAA Fisheries

Bull kelp forests, one of Earth’s most productive and biodiverse habitats, are in decline globally. Off the coast of Northern California, NOAA and the Greater Farallones Association are embarking on a critical mission to restore bull kelp in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation awarded the Greater Farallones Association $4.9 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act for this effort. 

Like coral reefs, or forests on land, kelp forests are self-sustaining ecosystems. Hundreds of marine species—including invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals—find food and shelter within kelp forests’ towering stems and dark canopy. Kelp also captures carbon—20 times more than terrestrial forests—making it a crucial player in the fight against climate change. 

However, over the last decade, marine heat waves and a surging population of kelp-devouring purple sea urchins decimated bull kelp forests. They were reduced by up to 80 percent in some areas within Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. As the forests disappeared, so did many of the animals that live in them. Fisheries worth tens of millions of dollars collapsed, cutting off an important source of income for local communities.

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