The Kelp Ecosystem

The kelp forest ecosystem is a key source of marine diversity and abundance in cold water oceans. This vibrant floating canopy delivers the sun’s energy into the marine ecosystem, gives shelter to young fish, and feeds urchins, abalone, crabs, and other marine life.

Unfortunately, researchers are increasingly concerned about declining trends in the size and condition of kelp forests in the Pacific Northwest. Underlying factors include climate change, sea star wasting disease, urchin population explosions, and sea otter absence. Explore this amazing biological community and its emerging conservation issues.

Kelp Conservation

Kelp Grazers out of Balance

Populations of kelp herbivores like the purple sea urchin have grown unchecked in many Pacific Northwest nearshore regions – due to the lack of predators such as sea otters and the sunflower sea star.

Climate Change

Climate change is effecting ocean conditions in a variety of ways in including ocean warming and ocean acidification -especially in the cold water marine ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.

Nursery Habitat

Kelp converts the suns energy into marine life! Kelp habitat is acknowledged as the key to the marine diversity and productivity in the nearshore regions of the Northwest.

Return to Sea Otter Science

Explore our Podcast Archive

Photo by Chris Nelson