SeaCare Inc.
P.O. Box 878
Sandy Bay 7004

Not fully appreciated by most SCUBA divers, macroalgae (seaweed) are important Macrocystis Apex 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 formerly abundant.

Why 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.

Macrocystis SeedingMarine Foresting
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 at all.


Current SeaCare Aims

  • 'Reafforesting' 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.

  • Extending 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

  • Developing 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.

  • Documentation 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.


Copyright © SeaCare Inc. 2002