At a bull kelp field near Ebey's Landing, kayakers visualize and paddle along a transect line counting bulbs to measure density
Bull kelp beds are important nearshore habitat, providing shelter and nutrients to a wide range of fish and invertebrates. Because of their significant habitat functions, there is strong interest, from the local to regional level, in mapping bull kelp beds.
However, governments have scarce funds for mapping - is this a job for citizen science?
In 2015, volunteers for the Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) and Northwest Straits Commission field-tested a survey protocol to map kelp beds in the seven northern counties. Using kayaks and hand-held GPS devices, the survey teams identified protocol modifications and made their initial data observations.
Map of a kelp field near Hastie Lake Road, expressed from GPS tracking data using Garmin software--This field is 0.5 mile long with a 2.0 mile perimeter. Paddling the intricate outline of this kelp field is a fun challenge and a great workout.
This class presentation will share the experience and outcomes from this first year of bull kelp surveying, as well as planning for the 2016 field season.