One area of the ocean that is critically important but often overlooked is the kelp forests.
What are kelp forests?
Kelp forests are typically found in colder, shallow waters and are made up of massive kelps. Kelp refers to several species of large, brown seaweed that grow from the ocean floor up towards the surface where it relies on sunlight as a source of food and energy. They grow on rocky surfaces, wrapping their root-like holdfasts around the stones and rock.
Why are kelp forests important?
In the ongoing battle against climate change kelp forests are one of the planets key carbon captures. They are responsible for 75% of the oceans efforts in removing CO2 from the atmosphere each year, making it one of the top carbon collector in the ocean!
Kelp forests also act as a coastal barrier, reducing erosion by providing a barrier to the coastline from large, strong waves. They shelter wildlife too, providing a dense and vast eco system for species such as sea otters, urchins, seals and fish.
What is putting kelp forests at risk?
One of the biggest current threats to kelp forests around the world is climate change. As the ocean warms the distribution of kelp forests are shifting, some species of kelp are able to adapt to these changing climates but other cannot survive in warmer waters and are dying off.
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1] Oceana - Kelp Forests
2] The Wildlife Trust - Kelp Beds and Forests
3] Regeneration International - What Kelp Forests Can Do For The Climate, Emma Bryce (3rd July 2020)