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bull kelp project

The abundance and distribution of bull kelp forests have been observed to be declining throughout the Salish Sea.  Scientists propose the likely factors include stormwater impacts, sedimentation, warmer temperatures, and/or competitive interactions. Guardians will observe and record bull kelp's abundance at set locations. 

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Bull kelp is the largest species of large brown algae found in the Salish Sea.  


Bull kelp is an "annual" meaning it starts from scratch every year. Bull kelp begins as a microscopic organism in the early spring and it can grow to 30 or 40 feet tall by midsummer (it can average ~2 feet per day!) 


It has a bulb filled with gas on one end that brings up its long leaves to the surface. A long whip-like tail on the other, held to a rock by a hold fast. This beautiful leafy canopy provides the perfect underwater forest with lots of places to hide for many organisms including tiny crustaceans (such as amphipods and isopods) that are important prey for salmon and rockfish. 


For this reason, bull kelp is considered a "foundational species."  This is why researchers are growing concerned about its continued disappearance.

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