Why is bull kelp necessary?

Why is bull kelp necessary?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Help The Kelp in the news: Harbour Spiel

The following article about Help The Kelp's work by Michael Mehta highlights the efforts of our group. It can be found in the December 2013 edition of the Harbour Spiel.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Help The Kelp featured in Nanaimo News Bulletin for replanting

An article by Tamara Cunningham from the Nanaimo News Bulletin features our replanting work.

Paul O'Sullivan (left) and Michael Mehta. Photo by T. Cunningham

To read the article click here

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

60 pound concrete blocks holding in rough water

When we first decided to use concrete blocks to weigh down the carboy spore-dispersal systems, we were not sure if 60 pound blocks would work in rough weather. I am delighted to report that it does indeed work, and the past day of rough seas has not moved anything.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Second round of "planting" done

This morning members of Help of Kelp took advantage of surprisingly good weather and calm seas to do a second round of bull kelp "planting" using our new "carboy protocol" to disperse thousands of spores in the waters in front of the Surf Lodge.

On Saturday, team members Michele and Michael harvested several ripe sori from bull kelp on the south end of the island. They were dried for 36 hours so that when re-introduced to the water, spores would drop almost immediately to the sea floor. Here's what the drying area looked like.

The team was delighted to welcome newest volunteers Bill Beedie (from Gabriola Automotive) and Tony, as well as to have along with us journalist Tamara Cunningham from the Nanaimo News Bulletin. Tamara documented the process, and an article is coming out this Thursday.

The assistance of Bill and Tony is greatly appreciated. We were able to use Bill's boat as a staging area for repacking the carboys with new sori, and of course for pulling the heavy concrete blocks back up. Below are some photos of today's adventure with brief descriptions.

Here's Bill's beautiful wooden boat dating to the 1930s.

Bill's boat worked in tandem with our research boat "Kelpie" to retrieve and re-position the carboys once packed with fresh sori. You'll see on the inflatable boat kelpers Paul O'Sullivan and Michael Mehta.

Here's how the heavy concrete blocks that held the carboys in place were pulled up. The skill and patience of Bill and Tony came in very handy for this task. Once on-board the larger boat, team member Michele carefully stuffed dozens of sori cuttings into each carboy.

The repacked carboys and concrete block systems were then hoisted back onto "Kelpie" for placement in the new area with depths ranging between 15-22'

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Short video of planting day

Team member Michele Fire-River Heart produced the following short video of how we're attempting to replant kelp.

Here's a photo of the bouys with carboys below them in Clark Bay near the Surf Lodge.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Planting in Clark Bay: Deploying the carboys

This morning Help the Kelp volunteers loaded the carboys with sori (spore patches) that we harvested on Saturday. By slightly drying them out, the sori are expected to immediately release their spores when put back in the water. Here team members Michele and Victor show how it's done.

Later in the afternoon... Before deploying the carboys in the Clark Bay area near the Surf Lodge, team member Nancy confers with Michael about where to inspect the bottom for suitable substrate. Bull kelp grow in rocky areas best.

We based our deployment on GPS mapping of kelp done earlier in the summer, and you'll see here a hole in the system (right hand side of map) that we'll try filling with new kelp.

Here's a photo of Nancy snorkelling in Clark Bay and a photo of the bottom structure that she took.

Michele and Victor documented the process too and we'll have some video to share at some point. Here's Michele ready to capture more action.

After ascertaining that Clark Bay is a good place to start replanting, the team loaded up our small research vessel "Kelpie" and began the process of dropping the weighted carboys in water between 15-22'.

Here's a photo of what they look like once placed, and in a few days we'll need to harvest new sori, pull up the carboy systems, reload, and redeploy somewhere else on the island.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Building the "carboy" delivery systems and harvesting sori

Today was a very busy and rewarding day for volunteers working with Help the Kelp. This morning team members assembled five carboy delivery systems that look like this.

We also managed to harvest more than 200 sori from a wide range of Bull Kelp in the False Narrows area.

And tested one of the carboys - and it worked like a charm!

Here's what the harvest looks like right now. It is being dried out for about 36 hours, and some of the sori were pre-treated with iodine.

On Monday the team will deploy these devices in the Clark Bay area pending a successful survey of the bottom structure. Approximately 40 sori - a mix of treated and untreated - will be stuffed into each carboy. The theory here is that when put back in the water, the sori will release spores and hopefully build a rich canopy next year.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New experimental planting approach

Help the Kelp will try replanting bull kelp in the next week or two using what we call the carboy protocol. 

GIRO donated a small plastic wine carboy to experiment with and Gabriolan Claire Dineen kindly donated several floats. We still need rope, cinder blocks, smaller floats, and several more plastic carboys.

Kelper Michele Fire-River Heart, my spouse Kathy Edwards, and I reviewed the kelp on the south end of the island on the weekend and we're pleased to report that sori (the reproductive patches) are almost ripe and ready for selective harvesting.

Here's what a blade looks like with sori intact and after it has naturally dropped off.

We hope to harvest sori this weekend and prep them prior to redeployment in other areas using the carboy technique. Sori will be placed in carboys in the following way. This drawing was done by Michele.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Something has happened to the kelp on the north end

Tonight I went for a ride on "Kelpie" to inspect the kelp on the north end of the island. I examined all plants between Lavender Bay and Entrance Island and was surprised to see that almost all bull kelp in the area have lost their blades. They are balder than I am - and that's not an easy thing to do!

The one plant that did have something remaining looked like this, and I am suspicious that something has been grazing on the surface, but have no idea what could do that. I did notice a large number of large Lion's Mane Jellyfish in the area.

This is somewhat worrisome given that when we mapped this area on August 3 2013 most of the plants had a full set of blades - and no sori were visible. I don't know how fast sori develop and drop spores. Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Alternative raft design

Like the raft idea, but definitely not the PVC. Websites showing the many reasons why it is not a good idea for the ocean and for our kelp babies. Below an idea I hatched using the raft concept. Of course all the bulbs would have sori rich blades.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Help the Kelp profiled on CHEK TV News

On August 6 2013 I had a visit from CHEK TV to talk about our project. Here's a link to the news clip.

Story in Nanaimo Daily News: Log booms trap kelp off Gabriola; Essential part of food chain, ecology

In an August 5 2013 article in the Nanaimo Daily News by Ben Ingram, Help the Kelp is profiled. Ben wrote:
Log booms along the shores of Nanaimo's Duke Point and Gabriola Island may be destroying vital kelp habitats.
Residents on the island working to create a map of the area's bull kelp say they discovered dead zones they believe are caused by log booms.
Kelp is an essential part of the food chain and shoreline ecology. Its nutrients can be traced from sea urchins to sea birds.
Michael Mehta is the co-ordinator of Help the Kelp, the group that has been mapping kelp around the area of Gabriola Island.
To read the full story click here.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bull Kelp Canopies Fully Mapped Around Gabriola Island

Yesterday a team of kelpers including Raquel, Nancy, Victor and Michael completed the last phase of mapping and finished between Twin Beaches and the Whalebone area. You'll see from the composite map below that there are notable gaps in kelp coverage and density.

Next steps: flesh out details for maps with polygons and lines based on GPS waypoints; incorporate notes on temperature and other observations; and then, identify good areas for replanting this year.


Friday, August 2, 2013

A cast of underwater characters

On July 21 2013 I was joined by kelp helper Liam Coleman and dive master Nelson Quiroga from Vancouver on a journey below the water off Gabriola Island (nearby Carlos Island). Below are some photos of the dive with a brief description of each.

This is what healthy and almost mature bull kelp looks like underwater

The Sea Cucumber plays an important role in eating detritus on the bottom of the ocean so that young kelp can take hold in the area

Here's a herbivore - the Sea Urchin. It eats kelp!

This large creature is a Sun Star. It eats urchins.

And here is one of the apex predators - Liam Coleman :-)

Article in Nanaimo News Bulletin: "Google Earth used to track kelp forests"

In an article by Tamara Cunningham with the Nanaimo News Bulletin, Help the Kelp's work is profiled. Tamara wrote the following:

Citizen scientists are using Google Earth to track disappearing ‘underwater forests’ along the coastline of Gabriola Island.
Help the Kelp – a volunteer organization of citizen scientists – has been carefully plotting beds of bull kelp on Google Earth this summer to help track the trend of disappearing marine habitat.

To read the full article click here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kelp Pickle Recipe

Gabriola Island poet extraordinaire Naomi Wakan forwarded the following recipe for bull kelp pickles. I'm looking forward to trying them. The recipe is from the following website.

Just a slight caution first... only use bull kelp that has washed ashore, never harvest live ones.

Kelp Pickles

Pickling brine for kelp
2  cups white vinegar  
2/3 cup water  
1  cup granulated sugar  
4  tablespoons  pickling spices  

1    long firm fresh bull kelp  
1  large onion, thinly sliced  
1   garlic clove, minced (1 clove per jar)  
1  teaspoon lemon juice (1 tsp. per jar)  

1 Go beach combing locally (hopefully you’re in an area without lots of water pollution, as I wouldn’t use kelp from a polluted area – check with local authorities to find out, first) and find a freshly-beached bull kelp, making sure it’s firm and fresh. Get 1 or 2 glass jars with lids and make sure they’re well washed.
2 Cut off the hollow portion of the kelp (discarding the bulb) and wash it well in fresh water, making sure to remove any/all sand and detritus.
3 Cut it into 1/2-inch rings and rinse in fresh water again, draining it in a colander.
4 Combine the brine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
5 Place the kelp rings into glass jars and add slices of onion, a minced clove of garlic, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice per jar.
6 Add the hot brine to the jar(s) then refrigerate for at least 48 hours before serving.

Article in the Gabriola Sounder: Log booms harming kelp beds, community group says

An article in today's Gabriola Sounder stated:

"Help The Kelp is concerned about the threats log booms pose to sensitive ecosystems such as bull kelp beds.
In mid-July, while using GPS units to map the existing bull kelp beds around Gabriola Island, volunteers noticed bull kelp was sparse in the waters directly across from the Harmac pulp mill whereas nearby, all through False Narrows, kelp canopies were healthy..."
To read more click here.

Article in The Flying Shingle: Kelp helpers discover ‘dead zones’ around log booms

An article in the July 29 2013 edition of The Flying Shingle states:

"Members of Help the Kelp –  a group of Gabriolans that is hoping to re-establish flourishing bull kelp beds off the coast of Gabriola Island – have discovered “dead zones” around and under log booms moored off the southwestern coast of Gabriola..."

To read more click here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Details on mapping protocol and progress to-date

Help the Kelp on Gabriola Island was fortunate to discover that a group of residents on nearby Mayne Island had developed a mapping protocol for canopy forming kelp.

We have adopted and adapted their approach, and in short use the following when mapping:

Water must not be too rough and no large waves (white caps) in area of interest; daylight hours; plus and minus one hour of low tide; ideally tidal height should be less than 1.2 metres (or 3.94’).

We also use the following approach for categorization.

And, use this approach adapted from work on tree canopies for assessing density. A consensus rating across all kelpers in the boat that day is used to avoid issues around inter-coder reliability.

As of July 25 2013 approximately 75% of Gabriola Island has been mapped. We are noticing unusually warm surface temperatures with a range of 18-22 C. This has prompted us to map earlier in the summer than what Mayne Island did due to concerns that bleaching and bull kelp decline is happening early this growing season. Here's a snapshot of our mapping progress. We have much more detailed maps, and this is just an overview.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fun and learning through Help the Kelp makes life fuller

When I joined 'Help The Kelp' I didn't expect such a bounty of experiences
that would feed my own soul. Abundance in so many forms.
Seeing new wonders of rock formations, and sea life from ocean level.
Learning, learning, learning, whether it is boating skills,
different types of marine ecology, or new technology skills.
Meeting new people, making new friends and doing citizen science.
Engaging with the natural world at an intimate level.
I am left blissed out and grateful.

So today I post fun stuff, as yesterdays kelp mapping was filled with it.

Gabriola's South-West cliffs left us filled with awe and wonder.




We also had the most amazing experience, a baby seal (approx. 2 ft long) came and engaged with us. Coming right up to the boat. Michael and I were tickled pink.

Wonderful kelp beds were found in Descanso Bay

And I had my first lesson ..... yee haa!