Help the Kelp

January 11 2018

The Noyo Center for Marine Science and its collaborators are attempting to establish kelp refuges near the last healthy stands of kelp, in hopes that the kelp will be able to recruit and regrow. Doing this means finding the most effective way to remove purple sea urchins and prevent re-invasion of the young kelp beds. The Trident drone will help the Noyo Center monitor and document this effort.

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January 11 2018


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Name: Sheila Semans
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Expedition Background

The Noyo Center for Marine Science is located in Fort Bragg, California, on the rugged and beautiful North Coast in Mendocino County. With a mission to advance ocean conservation through education, exploration and experience, our non-profit engages in critical research and offers a rich array of hands-on science programs for all ages. A fully independent non-profit for only two years, the Noyo Center has already established itself as a significant center for marine mammal studies. In addition to being part of the nation-wide mammal stranding network, we have successfully articulated the skeletons of sea lions, an adult female elephant seal, and most recently, a complete adult male Orca, which at 26 feet is the largest articulated Orca on display in the world. And we have a 73-ft blue whale skeleton yet to go!

Most recently, the Noyo Center for Marine Science has begun collaborating with local commercial urchin divers, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other NGOs in a Help the Kelp campaign. Local kelp forests have been devastated by a combination of warming seas, toxic algae blooms and the decline in sea stars due to wasting disease, which has resulted in an explosive increase in kelp-eating purple sea urchins. The result has been a 93% decline in kelp forests with massive impacts on the environment and marine life. Red abalone, an important local species, are starving and dying in record numbers, prompting the recent closure of the fishery. And without the kelp forest, small fish no longer have protective habitat in which to grow, so aren't there to feed shore birds or larger fish. Seals and sea lions have to travel farther to find the fish they need to survive. All of this impacts our local fisheries and the eco-tourist industry so necessary to our small, rural community.