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Kelp Survey 2020

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

2020 August 16 to 20th

Bull Kelp is a large seaweed that grows in lush and productive underwater forests along rocky shelves in coastal waters from Alaska to California. Bull kelp are crucial to the ecosystems of the coast, providing habitat to an incredible variety of organisms, from plankton to crustaceans, snails to small salmon, waterfowl to sea otters.

Bull kelp, which is actually the largest form of brown algae, is an annual plant that grows very quickly from early spring until the approach of winter, when it dies back. The ball-shaped float at the base of the kelp fronds is filled with gas which helps the plant reach close to the surface to capture sunlight. Kelp provides excellent carbon sequestration and helps reduce the force of waves along fragile coast lines. Despite their great ecological importance, little is known about the health and extent of kelp forests in the Salish Sea.

This year`s mapping event, August 16-20, marked the fifth year that Pender Island Conservancy volunteers have participated in an ongoing bull kelp survey project being run jointly by various conservation organizations around the Salish Sea. Last year, the Galiano and Mayne Conservancies received funding from the federal government to do kelp and eelgrass monitoring as part of a marine habitat restoration and protection project. Data collected was added to a regional database which is being coordinated by Rob Underhill at the Mayne Island Conservancy.

Thanks so much to all the enthusiastic folks who volunteered their time and expertise during this year`s mapping. Their good humour and commitment were awesome. They were up bright and early each morning of the project and hit the water with their kayaks and canoes, clipboards, and GPS’s to map the kelp beds around Pender. We had a great team this year, and beautiful weather, and for the first time we have been able to map all the sites on our list, and then some! Thanks to all the people who supported us, including Paul and Monica Petrie, Daphne Louis, Bob Coulson, and Richard Sullivan. And thanks to Erin O’Brien who showed up the first day at 7:30 a.m. with fresh-baked muffins, along with a carafe of hot coffee. Special thanks to Bob Simons, who not only participated in on-the-water mapping, but also spent many hours rounding up GPS’s for the mapping, as well as downloading the data and sending it off to Rob at the end of each mapping day.

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