Natural Coastal Kelp Forests are Disappearing around the Globe

In northern California, a series of events that began several years ago has destroyed the once-magnificent bull kelp forests along hundreds of miles of coastline. A brief shutdown of upwelling cycles left the giant algae groves deteriorating in warm surface water, causing a massive die-off. Meanwhile, a disease rapidly wiped out the region’s urchin-eating sea stars, causing a cascade of effects: Overpopulated sea urchins have grazed away much of the remaining vegetation, creating a subsurface wasteland littered with shells of starved abalone. Scientists see no recovery in sight.
A 2016 study noted a global average decrease in kelp abundance, with warming waters directly driving some losses. Ultimately warming ocean waters are expected to take a toll on the world’s kelp forests.

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