Undersea Forestry Feeds Salmon

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
8 January 2007, at 12:00am

VICTORIA - That yucky stuff we see on beaches has surprising ecological and economic importance.

The ocean without kelp would be like the land without trees, says Dr. Louis Druehl, the recognized global expert in kelp research. He has been working in Bamfield since 1968 because, he says, no other location in the world has so many varieties of kelp --27 species, all growing in the same area.

Although Druehl's specialty is kelp genetics, he and his wife, Rae, also own a company called Canadian Kelp Resources that operates a kelp farm and helps other people establish kelp farms and small kelp companies. People also come to Dr. Druehl for advice in restoring kelp forests that have vanished. Kelp, Druehl explains, is a vital part of the planet's ecosystem.

"It is one of the most productive ecosystems there is. Kelp is very close in productivity to Costa Rican alfalfa fields, which are the most productive in the world."

By productive, Druehl means carbon rich. In other words, kelp takes in carbon and produces oxygen, as well as protein and sugars that small marine creatures feed on. They then provide food for other creatures and that eventually translates into food for salmon and other large fish. Kelp produces even more oxygen and food than our land forests, Druehl says.

Source: Times Colonist