Re: Kelp Farming

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Posted by Dr. Bill on October 14, 2005 at 17:30:30:

In Reply to: Kelp Farming posted by --! on October 14, 2005 at 09:37:17:

Not sure it is legal to quote a copyrighted story here. Better to create a link to it on-line.

As a kelp forest ecologist, I read this article in the paper with interest. It is my opinion that to attempt to restore kelp beds when the underlying reasons for their demise have not been completely addressed is a failure waiting to happen.

I liken it to the attempts here on Catalina to restore bald eagle populations. Every year since 1980 we have tried to reestablish this magnificent species in a habitat where it was initially native. However, DDT/DDE pesticide residuals are still too high in the eagle's food to allow viable eggs to be laid, brooded and hatched.

We need to address the issues that caused the deline in the kelp WHEN it is possible to do so. One thing few kelp forest restoration teams fail to take into account is the Little Ice Age (1350-1900 AD) during which ocean temperatures fell. A rise in ocean temperatures since 1900 has been documented. Increased temperatures, especially above 68 F, do not favor kelp growth.

Following an El Nino event in 1976-77 there was a long period of elevated ocean temperature that some say ended about 1998. I'm not so sure. Thick kelp beds that I used to dive in the late 60's and early 70's essentially disappeared by 1980, and certainly more so during the 82-83 El Nino event.

Mainland pollution, now probably largely due to non-point sources, also work against kelp growth.

While it is admirable to try to restore kelp beds to the levels we believe they were at during the first major survey (Crandall 1913), it may not be possible under environmental conditions return to the levels of that sparsely populated era.

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