The Amazon Rainforest is not the “lungs of the Earth” nor does it produce 20% of the world’s oxygen.
But, do you know what is? Macroalgae, which produces over 70% of the world’s oxygen. This includes kelp forests, like those located along the California coastline. Kelp forests provide habitat and food for over 700 species of algae, invertebrates, and fish. In addition, coastal ecosystems such as kelp forests, sequester up to 20 times more carbon per acre than land forests—this plays a vital role in reducing the effects of global warming.
In the last 100 years, Southern California has lost 80% of its kelp forests. The kelp ecosystems are out of balance from both climate change and the fact that California sea otters were hunted to near extinction at the turn of the last century. Without the presence of large predators such as sea otters, purple sea urchins have been allowed to proliferate and create (essentially permanent) “urchin barrens” where kelp cannot grow.
“Sea otters once numbered in the hundreds of thousands and were common in the waters of the North Pacific. For thousands of years native peoples hunted them for both food and fur. With the advent of the Pacific Maritime Fur Trade, starting in 1740, the scale of hunting was greatly increased. Sea otter pelts were valued for their luxuriant fur, which has nearly one million hairs per square inch, the thickest fur of any mammal. As demand for sea otter pelts increased, so did the prices. By 1903, one sea otter pelt could be sold for as much as $1000. As a result, sea otter populations rapidly became depleted. By 1911, sea otters were near extinction. According to The Marine Mammal Center, today the southern California sea otter population numbers approximately 2,900.”
It is crucial to the overall health of our planet that we help protect and restore this invaluable marine ecosystem.
Sustainable Surf, a California based non-profit organization, in recent years has helped to propel the global surf industry into a more sustainable future with programs such as “Waste To Waves” (which recycles foam into new surfboard blanks) and its ECOBOARD Project (which helps surfers identify more eco-friendly surfboards). Sustainable Surf’s latest initiative, SeaTrees seeks to restore coastal ecosystems and funds blue carbon projects around the world—including right here in California.
SeaTrees is partnering with The Bay Foundation to help fund and promote their Kelp Forest Restoration Project off the Palos Verdes coast. The Bay Foundation has identified approximately 150 acres of urchin barrens along the rocky reefs off Palos Verdes, Penninsula. A team of divers manually clears the urchin barrens, allowing the kelp to quickly grow back to its prior extent. Other urchin predators, such as fish and lobsters, can then keep the population under control.
Kelp is perhaps the fastest-growing organism on Earth—it can grow up to 2 feet per day—allowing a kelp forest to recover in a cleared urchin barren in a matter of months. The site is considered restored if the kelp forest is healthy and the urchins are in balance. The Bay Foundation scientists monitor pre/post conditions at every dive site. Since the project began, back in 2013, over 46 acres of kelp forest have been restored. As long as these incredible efforts continue then the submarine forests off of Southern California’s coast should become, once again, a diverse, resilient ecosystem within the next ten years.
The Next Ten Years…
U.N. Scientists from the 2018 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change say, “The world has just 10 years to prevent climate catastrophe.”
One way to sequester carbon dioxide and combat climate change is by using biology. When plants such as trees photosynthesize and grow, carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and converted into biomass—branches, and leaves. Although trees store carbon, this storage is vulnerable since deforestation or forest degradation releases this carbon back into the atmosphere, undoing the benefits. The same is true of marine trees like mangroves and seagrass, which live close to shore and can be easily disturbed by weather events, human interaction, or runoff—thus releasing otherwise sequestered carbon back into the atmosphere. Kelp, on the other hand, exports a large portion of its carbon-capturing biomass out into the deep sea where it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. According to a study by Harvard University, the kelp-sequestered carbon can remain trapped there for centuries, even potentially millions of years.
SeaTrees—by supporting projects such as Kelp Reforestation—is actively working to offset global carbon emissions through balanced carbon removal. In this way, SeaTrees is doing its part to help prevent future climate catastrophe. Carbon sinks—natural reservoirs that store sequestered carbon—such as kelp forests will play a key role in getting us to net-zero emissions. Save the kelp-> save our seas -> save the planet.
Help Save The Planet
SeaTrees has made it easy for every surfer, ocean lover, and activist to make a positive impact to reverse climate change. Through their artist collaboration series, anyone can purchase unique products whose proceeds will go toward one of SeaTrees five Blue Carbon Projects.
As a surfer, SeaTrees offers you the opportunity to “wipe out your (negative) climate impact” and become #OceanPositive by essentially off-setting the carbon footprint of 1) your surfboard quiver 2) your surf trip flight 3) your annual impact Click below to be part of the solution now.
Carbon sequestration alone cannot prevent climate (change) catastrophe. We must also reduce our use of fossil fuels. Let’s all support SeaTrees and help save our seas by planting marine trees. Thus, restoring the “lungs of Earth” so that we can all, in the future, breathe a little easier.
Very interesting! I learned much from your discussion about the vital role of these underwater forests of kelp. Man, with science, can make a difference in our planet’s ecosystem.
Hopefully with blue carbon projects such as those that SeaTrees supports we can really have a positive impact on our environment for the future. We all need to get involved in any way we can!
Respecting, restoring and revitalizing ecosystems is vitally important. Every living organism plays a crucial role in the healthly balance of nature. Sea Trees contribution is fantastic, impressive and inspiring! Great article, I learned alot!
Thanks CJW ???? you can make a contribution too!
Thank you for sharing such a valuable and informative post..
Thank you ???????? Tanusri sen, for reading and helping to spread awareness on this issue!
Thanks for the education on this fact. So many are misinformed,.. jc
Information is power to improve.
Interesting post! There are biologists and interest groups currently fighting the Kelp dredging industry in Scotland, only just keeping them at bay with repeated requests to local government to look at the issues. Ireland’s coasts have already been scoured with a drastic loss of wildlife as a result.
People general have bought into the idea that plastic bags can be replaced with alginate manufactured from kelp and othe marine seaweeds. The results of such thinking are dire. It is a short-sighted vision that does not take into account that dredging destroys a kelp bed for ever.
I’ve never heard of the Kelp dredging industry in Scotland.????????????????????????????
The idea of destroying the very marine habitat we’re trying to protect from being destroyed by plastic seems extremely counterproductive.
Kelp is perhaps the fastest growing organism.
However, it takes many hours of dedicated restorative work and lots of money to replant.
(Reference: The Bay Foundation | Kelp Restoration Project)
Sorry, that is supposed to say that activists are trying to keep the kelp industry out of Scotland. A company that has already scoured some of the Irish coasts, is trying to get licensed to do the same.
Yes, Kelp forests take years to re-establish… And the companies scouring the coastline seafloors, leave them barren. It is rather sickening.
Wow, I had no idea that kelp played such a crucial role in oxygen production. Great informative article. Also awesome to see that the people at SeaTrees are doing what they can to reverse the damage we have done. As surfers, we have an obligation to protect our ocean and leave it better than we found it. Going to try Seatrees carbon footprint offset program now. Stay stoked and keep our seas healthy and clean!
Thank you for reading, samray11.
SeaTrees carbon footprint ???? offset program is thoughtful and encouraging for the future.
I had no idea how important kelp forests are to our planet! Loved this article! I like how you started off with the comment about the amazon rainforests not being the lungs of the earth. People are quick to believe what they see online ( myself included!) and have no science to back it up! So much research has been put into this article???????? wow
Thanks KK ????
All trees are important to our Earth —marine or terrestrial!