This project is a collaboration of the Nile Creek Enhancement Society (NCES) and the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (PW) to research methods for restoration of Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) in the trend towards warming waters in central Strait of Georgia.
In 2015, the project was included in Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salish Sea Marine Survival Project (SSMSP). Our main research site, a culture grid at Maude Reef, Hornby Island, produced a large biomass (several thousand kilograms) of bull kelp that was studied by divers and extensively sampled for a wide range of environmental conditions.
In addition, a second experimental site (PW1) was deployed and studied in north Baynes Sound and, although not as successful in kelp production, it was useful in improving knowledge of herbivore interactions; i.e., kelp crab grazing at this site, with kelp restoration research efforts.
A small natural kelp bed at south Denman Island was also sampled as a reference site. The project was conducted during one of the warmest spring and summer periods ever recorded locally and provided an opportunity to study the effects of temperature stress and herbivore grazing as limitations to bull kelp distribution in an important area of the Salish Sea.
A major outcome of the work was that our significant database (from 2012 -2015) was diversified and expanded on kelp performance at several study sites under varying conditions, including those of temperature, light intensity, salinity, pH, turbidity and chlorophyll, and under grazing pressure from various herbivore species (red and green sea urchins, marine snails, kelp crabs).
In 2016, we are comparing the performance of Bull kelp arising from stocks at Campbell River and Sansum Narrows at the sites to assess warm water adaptation. A more detailed description of the project can be found on the NCES kelp project webpage.