Giant Kelp Forest Regeneration
Kelp Ecosystems in California are in a state of crisis. In the last 10 years, more than 85% of Southern California's Giant Kelp forests have been devastated. Similarly, in Northern California, almost 95% of the Bull Kelp forests have disappeared. The primary cause behind this devastation is the overabundance of purple sea urchins - whose population has proliferated due to the disappearance of their natural predator - the sea otter. This chain of challenges serves as a concerning illustration of how human impacts and climate change can profoundly impact the health of ecosystems.
Clearing "urchin barrens" allows rapidly growing kelp to regrow and re-establish into a healthy kelp forest - creating habitat for marine life and sequestering carbon emissions.
The latest science shows that globally, kelp forests can sequester more carbon than mangrove forests - restoring these sequoias of the sea is critical to solving climate change.
SeaTrees has partnered with The Bay Foundation to regenerate kelp forests in Southern California.
Giant Kelp Restoration
In partnership with The Bay Foundation, we've restored more than 450,000sq ft of Giant Kelp forest.
Divers identify purple urchin barrens + teams are sent to clear these areas. The Bay Foundation then monitor the progress of the site as the kelp ecosystem reestablishes itself.
This project provides long-term employment for the local community. This in turn drives other Sustainable Development benefits produced by the project.
Kelp forests provide habitat and food for over 700 species of algae, invertebrates, and fish.
Kelp biomass often floats into the deep ocean, where it sinks. Each year, 10% of kelp primary productivity is permanently sequestered.
In ideal conditions, Giant Kelp grows approximately 1 foot per day - and can grow up to 2 feet per day! Kelp forests provide habitat and food for over 700 species of algae, invertebrates, and fish.
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.
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.
Long term results
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.