Researchers working to restore Australian kelp forests

CANBERRA, Nov. 24– Scientists from an Australia’s research institute have launched an attempt to restore giant kelp forests off the country’s south coast. The team from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in October began planting giant kelp along the Tasman Peninsula after spending four years investigating various methods to undertake the…

CANBERRA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — Scientists from an Australia’s research institute have launched an attempt to restore giant kelp forests off the country’s south coast.

The team from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) in October began planting giant kelp along the Tasman Peninsula after spending four years investigating various methods to undertake the large-scale project.

Giant kelp is the largest known marine algae, growing up to 40 meters tall.

More than 95 percent of forests off the coast of Tasmania have disappeared since the 1970s as a result of warming ocean temperatures.

“Kelp forests are really important habitats just like trees on land and a lot of animals also eat kelp, so they’re really the foundation of that environment,” Cayne Layton, a marine ecologist, recently told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“Unfortunately, with our changing oceanography due to climate change, those water conditions are changing and our waters are becoming warmer and nutrient-poor, and that’s really what’s driving the loss of our giant kelp forests.”

The team is hopeful of spreading baby kelp across 7,000 square meters of Tasmanian waters.

They are hopeful the return of giant kelp forests will also restore species that rely on the habitat, including abalone and crayfish.

However, the project is labor-intensive and remains in a trial phase for how to best achieve restoration.

If the spring planting proves unsuccessful the team is planning to plant even more kelp in the autumn after the unsuitable summer conditions. Enditem

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