Rockfish

Tag: Rockfish

A harbor seal hunts for prey in kelp forests. Photo: Florian Graner (CC BY 2.0)

Kelp crisis? Decline of underwater forests raises alarms

At first, the decline of kelp in Puget Sound seemed unlikely. This signature, leafy algae was thought to be especially hearty and resistant to some of the stressors that have affected other shoreline species like eelgrass. It was hard to go to a beach in Puget Sound and not find long strands of bull kelp waving in the current. It was more of a hazard for boat propellers than an object of environmental concern. But the signs were there.
First, the rockfish started disappearing. These fish depend on kelp for protection and food and scientists suspected the loss of this key habitat was one of the primary reasons that three species of rockfish have been listed as threatened or endangered.
Other indicators were more subtle. Memories of kelp beds clouded. Samish tribe members reported having a hard time finding enough kelp to wrap fish in their traditional ceremonies. Anglers were surprised that some of their prized fishing spots were now gone because of the loss of bull kelp habitat. Anecdotal evidence was piling up and scientists began looking more closely.
For years researchers have been surveying kelp beds in Puget Sound, and now the results are out. This week, Sarah DeWeerdt reports on the latest findings and what they might mean for Puget Sound. It turns out that kelp is in serious decline throughout the region, alarming experts and signaling a new front for ecosystem recovery efforts.
Read the story in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound’s online magazine Salish Sea Currents.
 

A harbor seal hunts for prey in kelp forests. Photo: Florian Graner (CC BY 2.0)

Kelp crisis? Decline of underwater forests raises alarms

At first, the decline of kelp in Puget Sound seemed unlikely. This signature, leafy algae was thought to be especially hearty and resistant to some of the stressors that have affected other shoreline species like eelgrass. It was hard to go to a beach in Puget Sound and not find long strands of bull kelp waving in the current. It was more of a hazard for boat propellers than an object of environmental concern. But the signs were there.
First, the rockfish started disappearing. These fish depend on kelp for protection and food and scientists suspected the loss of this key habitat was one of the primary reasons that three species of rockfish have been listed as threatened or endangered.
Other indicators were more subtle. Memories of kelp beds clouded. Samish tribe members reported having a hard time finding enough kelp to wrap fish in their traditional ceremonies. Anglers were surprised that some of their prized fishing spots were now gone because of the loss of bull kelp habitat. Anecdotal evidence was piling up and scientists began looking more closely.
For years researchers have been surveying kelp beds in Puget Sound, and now the results are out. This week, Sarah DeWeerdt reports on the latest findings and what they might mean for Puget Sound. It turns out that kelp is in serious decline throughout the region, alarming experts and signaling a new front for ecosystem recovery efforts.
Read the story in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound’s online magazine Salish Sea Currents.
 

Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), the only surface canopy species in the Puget Sound, observed in March 2018. Photo: Brian Allen

Kelp continues steady decline in Puget Sound

This week marks the beginning of an occasional series we’ll be producing on findings from the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. Last month, we sent more than a dozen student and professional writers to the conference to gather stories on the latest science influencing Puget Sound recovery. We’ll be rolling those stories out over the next few months, and we kick things off with a report by PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan. He writes that scientists are trying to learn how to restore Puget Sound’s diminishing kelp forests in an effort to stave off habitat loss for rockfish and other threatened species. Its a fascinating look at one of Puget Sound’s foundational species, the bull kelp, which can grow as much as two inches per day.
Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.