Bull Kelp Monitoring

Mark and Brian getting ready for their dive.
Author: Brian Timmer

This past Thursday the MABRRI team headed out on Captain Ryan Fredrickson’s boat, “The Silver Bullet”, to check on our recently transplanted bull kelp plots in the Northumberland Channel as well as on the Winchelsea Islands. The water was flat calm when we arrived at the Marina, and with binoculars in hand we were lucky enough to spot some porpoises on the boat ride south to our first site, just south of Nanaimo. Myself and another volunteer, Mark Bright from Sundown Diving, suited up and hopped in the water at our Northumberland Channel site which is just north of Dodd’s Narrows. We measured the kelp and recorded the life in and under the canopy created by our bull kelp, which is attached to a line anchored to the bottom. Once our dive was completed we made our way back to the surface to meet up with the Silver Bullet, which had been recording water parameters while we were under.

Back on the boat, we headed for our second site of the day, out on the Winchelsea Islands. This is my favorite of the two sites, as the visibility is often better, making for a much more pleasurable dive. With the same objectives as the first dive, Mark and I got to work recording. Schools of perch and herring swam around us and we even saw some tiny juvenile rockfish, which were no more than 2 inches long, hanging out on the kelp line! The habitat we are creating in these areas is being put to good use, and hopefully in time, the areas will start to repopulate with bull kelp naturally. However, with record temperatures over the past few summers playing a role in the serious decline of bull kelp within the Strait of Georgia, only time will tell.

Until then, we will keep doing our thing. Trying our best to rehabilitate habitat in areas which have been affected by industrial use, and monitoring the changes we see. Hopefully in the coming years, after this project with Environment and Climate Change Canada is complete, we will be able to expand on this project to add more kelp plots in other areas of the Strait that are either missing kelp or are currently seeing declining populations.