Kelp Bed Monitoring
The large brown algae commonly known as ‘kelp’ provide habitat to a variety of species in Puget Sound, and are considered critical habitat warranting protection. Conspicuous declines in the abundance of bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), the most common canopy-forming species in Puget Sound, have been observed in many areas.
Scientists are currently investigating whether growing kelp can reduce CO2 levels in the inland marine waters of Puget Sound.
In 2014 the Northwest Straits Commission launched a regional survey of bull kelp beds using a kayak-based survey protocol. Several agencies including the Department of Natural Resources are interested in the on-the-ground surveys to confirm the data based on their flight surveys. The following video gives you a better idea of the project. Clallam MRC joined the effort in 2015.
In April 2018 Suzanne Shull, NWSC, gave a presentation summarizing the results of three year's volunteer surveys at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. The presentation with notes is available here.
In 2016 a land-based reconnaissance trip looked at several kelp beds between Deep Creek and Neah Bay. The kelp beds along the Strait are usually very large and therefore not suited for the kayak survey technique. However, one smaller kelp bed in a relatively protected area west of Clallam Bay was identified as a possible kelp bed to be surveyed in 2017.
Two surveys of the bed in Clallam Bay were conducted on July 9th and 23rd. Part of the effort included identifying the kelp species and estimate their distributions. A survey of the large kelp bed in Freshwater Bay was conducted on August 20th and another survey of the small bed is planned for September 17th.
The data will be compiled with other survey data collected in Puget Sound at the end of the season.
On July 2nd, 20th, 30th, and August 19th a group of volunteers including the summer intern Haley Gray went out to Freshwater Bay to survey the kelp beds in the bay. The first time they surveyed a smaller bed to the west of the boat ramp and the three other times they surveyed a much larger bed to the east of the boat ramp. The data has been compiled with other surveys conducted in Puget Sound. The map below shows the larger bed in Freshwater Bay.