Researching Kelp Forests in the Gulf of Maine

Friday, April 6, 2018 by Natasha

A few months ago, I wrote about kelp and how there is research being done in California to see if kelp could be a viable renewable resource. Here in Maine, the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has received funding to study the kelp forests of the Gulf of Maine. As a result of climate change, kelp forests have been declining around the world, but in the Gulf of Maine researchers think the kelp could return.

In the past, kelp populations in the Gulf were very low because of a high population of sea urchins, which feed on the kelp. However, the urchin fishery in the late 1900s caused the sea urchin population to reduce significantly. The decline of kelp’s predator could in turn give the kelp forests a chance to rebound.

Through this research, scientists Douglas Rasher and Robert Steneck and their team will collaborate with other researchers and fishermen in order to monitor kelp population growth over time, and determine which kelp species could be sustainably harvested for human use and consumption. If you would like to learn more about this study, click the link here!

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