fully appreciated by most SCUBA divers, macroalgae (seaweed) are important
components of the inshore reef ecosystem. In Tasmania, there are more
than 600 species of red, brown and green macroalgae. A very conspicuous
example is Macrocystis pyrifera or 'string kelp'. This alga can
grow to more than 30m in length and is probably one of the more readily
identifiable species for this reason. In some areas of Tasmania, stocks
of this alga appear to be declining. Community based trials have been
initiated in an attempt to re-establish this alga in areas where it was
Reforest Kelp ?
Its loss is not just environmental- it makes economic
good sense to take care of this valuable coastal asset. In this nurturing
and protective habitat many of our major commercial aquatic species spend
all or part of their life. Southern Rock Lobster, sea urchins, abalone
and other herbivores feed around the leaves. Lobsters feed on the sea
urchins. Small fish, crabs, eels, worms, isopods, sponges, and others
shelter in the entwined anchored root systems. Fish find protection amongst
the fronds, and the young of many aquatic species grow there in a safe
nursery close to the coast. Fascinating creatures, unique to our cool
southern oceans need the kelp to survive. Kelp is a coastline protective
bastion against the surging Southern Ocean Swells and is a significant
part of Tasmanias natural marine heritage. The Giant Kelp forests that
remain are Tasmanian Treasures with a potential for tourism through recreational
fishing and diving equal to the Barrier reef.
Barren reefs caused by over populations of urchin
are all that remain in many areas where kelp was abundant. Here especially,
helping nature by replanting seed stock and providing optimum conditions
for growth may be beneficial. Left alone, even under optimum conditions
it may take many years before natural re establishment occurs - if
aims to create a 'critical mass' of Macrocystis in currently
impoverished areas so that the species may more easily survive adverse
conditions. Initial reafforestation trials in Tasmania have already
shown signs of success.
the numbers of sites around the Derwent and in the Mercury Passage .
These will include areas presently threatened with infestations of the
feral seaweed Undaria
Click here to see the current sites
a propagation program, where spores are propagated on to rope or aggregate
for distribution on to prepared sites. Taking the program into the education
sector so that it may be perpetuated in future generations.
of the History of String Kelp in Tasmania . This includes collecting
the anecdotal history of fisherman who remember the time when kelp was
a dominant feature of the coastline.