The kelp forest that only eight years ago formed a lush ocean canopy along California’s northern coast has almost completely disappeared, and scientists studying algae and the species that depend on it are concerned about its inability to recover. .
A new UC Santa Cruz study found that the kelp forest on the Sonoma and Mendocino coast has declined by an average of 95% since 2013. It analyzed satellite images dating back to 1985 to investigate how a number of factors led to the forest. of abrupt algae. decline, including an explosion in the purple sea urchin population, which eats it, and two waves of marine heat. Research shows that the unprecedented destruction was linked to unusual ocean warming and that the kelp forest likely won’t recover anytime soon, in part because removing urchins is so difficult.