Species of large brown algae, referred to as kelps, are an essential component of coastal rocky reef habitats in temperate oceans throughout the world. In Washington State, the bull kelp, Nereocystis luetkeana, and the giant kelp, Macrocystis spp., form extensive forests in shallow, rocky habitats. Because of their fast growth rate and large stature, these algae are thought to contribute greatly to both the productivity of shallow coastal marine ecosystems and as habitat for a diversity of fishes and invertebrates. Major declines in floating kelp abundance have been documented throughout Puget Sound. Dr. Tom Mumford, Washington Department of Natural Resources, reports that floating kelp beds have all but disappeared from southern Puget Sound. Declines are also reported generally from the Salish Sea, including British Columbia, Canada. Because of the ecosystem functions provided by kelps, the consequences of declines to kelp beds in Puget Sound are not limited to the direct effects on kelp populations, but influence indirectly the many species that depend on the presence of these forests.
Click the Play button above to watch a movie that describes Puget Sound Restoration Fund's efforts in bull kelp restoration. (Thanks to John F. Williams of StillHopeProductions.)
Puget Sound Restoration Fund is collaborating with the Suquamish Tribe, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, State resource agencies, and the Puget Sound Pilots Association to conduct pilot kelp restoration projects at select locations in Puget Sound. Initial goals include developing a comprehensive restoration plan, conducting pilot restoration projects, and cultivating ongoing partnerships. PSRF’s restoration team is currently propagating new kelp starts for two research projects which will examine restoration strategies at locations in central Puget Sound (Restoration Point and Jefferson Head) and Pt. Gamble Bay in Hood Canal.
Specific objectives of the 2011 kelp project include:
- Work with researchers and resource managers to consolidate all relevant information and data on the current status and abundance trends for the floating Nereocystis resource in Puget Sound;
- Identify priority areas for restoration activities;
- Address the feasibility of restoration projects, including funding, propagation, outplanting, and long-term sustainability;
- Conduct a pilot restoration project and identify concurrent monitoring priorities.