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Author Topic: phys.org article - The collapse of Northern California kelp forests...  (Read 1506 times)

Offline Duckfoot

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One of two well written articles from University of California, Santa Cruz regarding the future of Northern California kelp.
I appreciate how "the perfect storm" is never mentioned. The article sticks to what is and is not known without going into a sales pitch like we've seen too often in the past.
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-collapse-northern-california-kelp-forests.html
...thought I had the second article bookmarked. I'll post it when I come across it again.
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline NorCal DiverDave

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Read the article, no bull kelp any time soon. That sucks.

Offline prd

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ignorant question: any reason there isn't a bigger govt emphasis on "planting" kelp in affected regions?

Some combination of kelp introduction and urchin culling would seem to address two of the major drivers of the current situation.

Offline Duckfoot

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ignorant question: any reason there isn't a bigger govt emphasis on "planting" kelp in affected regions?

Some combination of kelp introduction and urchin culling would seem to address two of the major drivers of the current situation.

There are a number of people on this list who I'm sure would be happy to answer that question.

https://farallones.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/KRWG-Members.pdf
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline prd

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Thanks for sharing that. It looks like that working group led to this action plan (https://farallones.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Bull-Kelp-Recovery-Plan-2019.pdf) and it basically had two recommendations: kill urchins, figure out how to grow kelp at scale

There was some interesting far out ideas mentioned in there that were ruled out. One was engineering a purple urchin disease  :o

Offline Duckfoot

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There was some interesting far out ideas mentioned in there that were ruled out. One was engineering a purple urchin disease  :o

Right! What could possibly go wrong?  ::)
In the article first posted it said, "An outbreak of sea urchin disease could also potentially lead to mass mortality of urchins and give the kelp a chance to recover."
Some of the original speculation from scientists in Washington was the seastar die off was a natural correction of an overpopulated species. There's always the chance it could happen to urchins too. In my comments to the Commission before the kelp die off was a concern that lowering the allowed take of abalone could result in continued overly dense populations in some regions where a pathogen could easily spread. Wish we still had that problem.
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline Duckfoot

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At one of the RAAC (Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee) meetings, Chris Voss stated that he had seen barrens cleared by big storms. Sadly, he caught a little flack from another on the committee for relaying what he had actually witnessed.
Joshua Smith, the Ph.D. candidate and kelp forest researcher at UC Santa Cruz quoted in the article said, “A number of things could take out the urchins. It could be urchin disease or it could be a bottom-scouring swell that physically wipes sea urchins off the reef.”
My bet is that a storm will eventually take out the zombie urchins. I don't know of any studies that support this concern but I wonder if establishing what would essentially be kelp plantations could exacerbate the problem by feeding pockets of urchins and allowing them to become more resilient to a bottom-scouring swell.
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline Shark Slayer

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I'm not sure they would become more resistant - possible, but I like to think of things we can do.  This video shows what is possible when divers work together.  While we cannot do the whole coast, we can do parts.

https://www.urchinomics.com/blog/kelp-forest-restoration-at-golden-cove

« Last Edit: March 23, 2021, 07:46:02 AM by Shark Slayer »

Offline prd

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That's a pretty dramatic turnaround.

I believe many of the folks on NCUH have organized urchin removal events in the past. I've definitely seen some of your names in the articles that I read :) What I didn't see were followup articles that talk about the impact that those events had on those areas and whether they were durable or not. To what extent did kelp recover? How quickly do urchins return?

If that kind of followup hasn't been documented, it would be pretty cool if some of us could coordinate our efforts on a specific area this summer and go pro the area X days later like this video.


Offline Duckfoot

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I'm not sure they would become more resistant - possible, but I like to think of tings we can do.  This video shows what is possible when divers work together.  While we cannot do the whole coast, we can do parts.

https://www.urchinomics.com/blog/kelp-forest-restoration-at-golden-cove

For what it's worth, or not, the committee member I mentioned who stepped on Chris Voss's comment was involved in the Palos Verdes project. Some ego involved maybe? I don't know.
In any case the situation in Sonoma/Mendocino is much different than in the South. I'm sure that if any efforts to help in the north were to result in unintended consequences it's still worth the effort. The barren is so huge any unforeseen negative consequences wouldn't amount to much and we still gain valuable data in the process - assuming there are funds available to support data collection, analysis and reporting.

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline Duckfoot

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If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

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