This is a giant-kelp forest. These underwater forests are one of the most productive places on earth. They support endangered sea otters and a huge variety of fish, invertebrates, and other marine life. They provide critical nursery grounds for thousands of species.
Kelp forests perform a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases and helping prevent coastal erosion. But our once-vase kelp forest is being eaten by an explosive overpopulation of native sea urchins. It started in 2013 when a disease wiped out sunflower stars, the urchin natural predator. the urchin’s natural predator.
Combined with a multi-year marine heat wave caused by climate change The purple urchin population exploded, devastating many of Central California’s kelp forests and leaving many animals without food in their natural habitat.
The giant kelp restoration project aims to combat this by reducing out-of-control urchin populations to their normal levels.
Keith Rootsaert and his team are leading trained kelp restoration divers to successfully reduce the number of urchins at Tanker’s reef so that the kelp forest can regrow. It is a huge undertaking, but it’s worth the effort to protect our oceans.
G2KR inspires local volunteer divers to join their effort to restore these beautiful kelp forests in Monterey Bay. As monterey scuba divers, it is our responsibility to protect these natural wonders for future generations to enjoy.
Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Oceana / G2KR