When I was in university way back over 20 years ago, at one of the first things I learned in my ecology class was food webs, and one of you learn about food, webs, one of the biggest examples of the year most popular campus, I guess is the sea otter sea, urchin, help, sort of complex, and how each one regulates itself or regulates the other to make sure that all of them. If they're all at a healthy level at a healthy population level, they all kind of balance each other out, but if it goes out of whack, then we got a problem. That's actually what we're going to talk about. We can talk about sea, otters urgent, kelp forest in Monterey Bay forest, in Northern, California on this episode. Speak of the ocean blue podcast. Let's start the show.
Everybody, welcome back to another exciting up. So to speak of the ocean blue podcast, I'm your house and ruin on today's episode, we're going to be talking about kelp forests and why they're so important and why they need to be protected and how we can actually protecting what's going on in Northern California. Because apparently in Northern California, there decreasing and we need to make sure that we are protecting them. We are restoring them where needed and we sometimes it's natural Predators. They're actually affecting it because of accumulation of other things that are happening. That are probably stressing it out that are making it not as easy to recoup. So, we're going to talk about that on today's episode, so let's get into it. Now, first thing we should do is Define why these kelp forests are important. First they are a source of blue carbon. That means they are a, they they are a structure there for their plant that brings in the brings in carbon. And when you bring in carbon dioxide, you actually take carbon out. You sequester it down to the roots and into the soil.
And you, it doesn't go into the atmosphere has less carbon in the atmosphere is so these blue carbon sinks are at are extremely important to look at. Also at seagrass Meadows, you're looking at mangroves of disgusted, just in the past couple of episodes when we talked to Wild coast and and it was just too, it's just a great thing to have obviously you for regulating climate change but also it provides a habitat for a lot of Nursery type. Species of species that are growing. They're juveniles their their larval. They've got protection. You look at these Forester, these big long plant that go from the bottom of the ocean, all the way to the surface and they're pretty dense when you get into a forest. And so is really hard to me and really hard to find things that you're looking for. If you ever been to in to account for stand in scuba diving, which I haven't seen them in aquariums in the species that are in there are quite diverse. It's one of my favorite have a test to look and I look forward to diving and one of them at some point in my life and it's on my bucket list. But the amount
Different fish, and the colorations of the sort of, the, the camouflage that they have Justin to blend into these forests are obvious and that they, they provide protection is kelp forest, provide a lot of protection. And for, not only for vertebrates, like fish but also invertebrate such as sea stars, sea urchins, crab shrimp. All these different types of species that you can think of. They provide a lot, a lot of shelter. They provide a lot of food for every part of that habitats, that that food web is huge. When you think about a celt for protecting this Calpers they also offer security along the coastline by decreasing wave energy of waves coming in. If you've ever been to the California coast, I can get a little choppy, just a little bit thick as it gets pretty choppy. And so when you have a comfort to decreases that wave energy just a little bit, you know. So decreases a rosian that protects the coastline and so forth is good for security.
The boxes for being such a great habitat habitat, surround restore than where we need to, but keeping them around by protecting them and taking a proactive approach is cheaper. Let's just be honest, it's cheaper, I might be harder to learn places but from a logistics point of view, it's actually easier. You don't have to plant, you don't have to give people to help. You have to pay so much money. So it becomes easier just to protect a lot of times. There's the problems that they faced our cumulative. Right now, the biggest problem that they're facing our guys, climate change and sea urchins, so climate change, obviously is making it their help like cold water and so when water heats up the kelp doesn't like that. So the habitats is certain areas may not do well in the water. Heats up out of the temperature range of a kelp forest and I don't have that off hand. I push it down a little bit of research before this out, but I don't have it offhand right now. The temperature range but
What is Outlet? Temperature range? You're not going to sea kelp forest. Do. Well if they're going to be around at all. They're going to slowly deter. They're going to just deteriorate and you just knocking to see a nice flourishing for like 24 hours. I mean, think about Forest on land, like a dense forest, that's what you get underwater, it's quite fascinating. So it when you, when you don't have that when you're missing that component becomes a problem, so areas where there's warm Waters is going to be hard pressed by climate change. But also when you have a sort of a habit out of whack sometimes you get species that, that just sort of Bloom and Blossom and they become really a, but it like the sea urchin and the CR2. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, in the pre intro, was the fact that, you know, you when you're in college, do you learn about the complex between the web? The wet food web complex, among the a sea otter, urgent and kelp forest. So, sea urchins, eat kelp, right kelp.
Text the Otters and fish and sea. Otters eat.
Sea urchins right end. And so to see stars to a certain degree, they they eat kelp forests as well and they'll eat sea urchins as well. Now, when those are all in Balance, so you have a lot, you have a good amount of sea, otters of the population is strong. When you have a good amount of sea urchins and you have healthy kelp forest. Everything is just there that the situation still eat the kelp forest, but the sea otters, keep that population in check because the sea otter when they do that than the sea. Otters, then the Arches, can't eat, the, the kelp forest too much where it makes a big difference. Now, if there are they go unchecked like they are in Northern California, then they can really decimate the kelp forest and that's what they've done over the past decade have actually decimated 90%. There's a 90% loss until 4 so you saw the benefits I just went over the beginning of this episode. Now you don't have that for 90% of the areas that help had that had kelp forest before. So forget protecting them because you can't really protect
Against human disturbance if that's not the case. I'm sure there's a little bit of human disturbance on along the coastline, but for the most part, if that's not the problem, you have to start looking at what's the problem with sea urchins here and why are sea urchins going crazy? And then do we have the ethical sort of crown as I guess to go in and remove the sea urchins? And how do we do that? Do we do it from a natural perspective or do we not? We'll discuss that in a minute. But once they notice, is that areas that have a sea otter population. So in Monterey Bay, so Josh Smith, a PhD candidate at UC Santa Cruz. He was in charges was part of his dissertation. So he compared these areas north of Monterey Bay and then in Monterey Bay and looked at the difference between Cal forest in the kelp forest in Monterey Bay only decreased by 60%, which is still a lot. It's still quite a bit, but it's certainly a lot less than 90% And so
Dennis was because they assumed that it was well, they they looked at it and the evidence pointed that the fact that there's presence of sea otters and in abundance, they kept the Sea Urchins in check. And so now the kelp beds rashly in better shape than the CR. So, we know that the sea otters like this area in Monterey and they'll stay there. There's an established population. So they're going to handle that. But then you look back and you say, okay now what do we do? You know, where do we go from here? We need to make sure that you know, that the sea otters are protected in Monterey Bay, first of all and they are they are protected because they're they fit under the US Marine Mammal protection act which is an actual act at a national act that protects all marine mammals within the US Waters, that prevent the harassment, the disturbance, or the death of Agatha called, take of Marine Mammal. So sea, otters used to be quite a button on the west.
When when settlers first, the first started to come here, pelts were a big thing sea otter. Pelts were huge thing. And that's what was the big cause of their decrease. And that's when we really start to understand the difference at this, or that with food buy call, buy SoundHound, pordon sea, otters were to managing at the urchin population. And so when you have a present this year, this year's are decreasing, their population is decreasing. And if they don't have much of an effect on the kelp forest and that's what we saw in Monterey Bay now. Could there be more sea? Otters maybe and then he that will regulate the seat, the sea urchin population. A little like a little bit more, which will may bring back some of those allow some of the scalp as to flourish a little bit more. So there hasn't been a sixty-two. 60% decrease, maybe we'll see a bit of an increase which would be nice but I don't know how that would work because again, you looking at the ethics of it all, you know, do we start, you know, putting more sea otters in like haven't maybe have more of a breeding program if that's possible and say it is possible to
Introduce more sea, otters back into back into the area, how much is too much. You know, how many, how many sea urchins are sea? Otters, will it take to really hold and establish that population of sea urchins? That doesn't affect the kelp? It, you know, it's going to take a lot of time. This is not something that can that can move quickly. Now, one of the suggestions, at the end of this article, which are linked to the, in the show, note was the fact that in the areas where there were no sea urchins, not the the session with the suggestion wasn't to put or sorry sea otters. The suggestion wasn't to put sea otters back into, or in to these areas if they were even there in the first place. But the suggestion was to start collecting sea urchins. And so, start trapping them and bring it in. Now, one thing you can say, is, if you really want to go, so you can establish the fishery for them. See, your Merchants row is very popular in like caviar and so forth. And so, that's a big thing to have in a lot of areas in California, L across the US and North America.
The high commodity so that could be something else that they can think of it. Or they just take them out, you know, they just take him out and kill him, I guess, you know, I think Ali is that right? I don't know. That's something. That's something for animal activist and animal rights people to really Garner, but we have to do something because these kelp forest are in trouble and we need to do something to protect those kelp forest along the entire coast of California. But the first question obviously, and which is answers here is. Why are they decreasing so much? We know in the northern part of California? We know that these Cowboys are being affected by sea urgent and that's a big thing to find out the big reveal now. It's like, what do we do here? Do we collect the sea? Urchins do we sell them off in this? That was a fishery. Do we collect them and put them into some kind of like a land aquaculture facility not of ocean facility but I'll and facility and start bringing them and make a fishery out of them. Is that the opportunity that's there.
There's so many questions and you're so many ways we can go down. I'm not going to go down in this episode cuz I just want to focus in and show you that there was some of the research that's being done. Really shows a different somehow, a habit, as being affected in one area compared to another. And I think it's really interesting when we do these types of, of comparison because they're really not that far off that, it's pretty much the same habitat. Maybe though the temperatures are a little bit different and that's what's allowed in the kelp forest, but also to see you at the sea otter population. Presence makes a big difference in these areas. Now, it's not a perfect difference in life that we saw. That a 60% decrease happened over the past decade, but a 90 is better than the 90%. That means you're still kelp forest there and we can still try and re-establish them in the future. Hopefully, we'll be able to re-establish them in the northern part of what we got to find out why they're decreasing in the first place cuz there's no point in restoring an area where she's going to go back and decrease again. And probably make another Boon for the sea urchin.
Malaysian. So that's something that's interesting, that might happen. The other thing that might happen is you let the sea urchins continue to grow. The kelp forest will be eradicated from that area for now. And then eventually this year's our population will die off. You put more kelp forests in there, maybe I can regrows, maybe it doesn't, it's not an easy thing. When you only start to use human means and enter the human interference in nature. A lot of times it doesn't come back the way we think it always thought about that with the car. We got all will put a moratorium on cod fishing. They still haven't come back into the the numbers that we used to have even before the the the moratorium. So I think it's it's something that we have to definitely look at to make sure that we do better that we do better and we react better, we react faster to these things. In this research that Josh Smith did for PhD which is a great PhD thesis. This is amazing worth of to do. Like you really find out what's happening is going to be important into this thing.
Why do you want to think Josh for doing what he's doing? And I hope that he is able to get his PhD from this, which I doubt, he, I doubt he won't. I'm sure he will and I want to thank everybody else for you. Listen, I want to know. What do you, what do you think they should do from ethical standpoint? Do you think they should introduce sea otters in this area introduced as more sea otters in the Monterey Bay Area? Do you think that they should start collecting sea? Urchins, you think they should do a little bit of both. Love to hear your thoughts and comment in the speaker for blue, Facebook group. I'm actually letting some people in right now as we speak. And so, once you do that, you'll get in, you can give your opinion or you can DMV on Instagram, you can DM me on Twitter, you can do me a DM, me on Tik Tok more than happy to hear from you. And by the way, I'm going to be doing some stuff on YouTube. So check out her YouTube channel, speaker for blue and you'll be able to see what we're going to be up to try and put more videos similar to this similar stories. Just a little shorter chunks but it will be video.
Maybe do some, do some live things. If you have any ideas, what you like to hear, please let me know. You can like I said damn me, Instagram Tik-Tok Twitter or whatever you'd like to do and I will respond as soon as I can for the Facebook group is always open for that to any way. I want to thank you so much for listening to this podcast. Have a great day will talk to you the next episode and happy conservation.