Heatwave affecting Australia’s Kelp Forests


Did you know one hundred kilometers of kelp forest were destroyed by marine heatwave between 2010 and 2013?

The Great Southern Reef includes a 2300km area of kelp forest. The reef is home to the nations’ most fisheries with an economic value of 10 billion dollars.

The destruction of the kelp caused the extinction of 370 square kilometers of rocky cool climate reefs. The area soon became home to seaweeds and tropical fish which prevented kelp from growing.

If the trend continues, the kelp forests could retreat to the southern tip of the state. The consquences would be as devastating similar to the loss of the Great Barrier Reef. In addition, the El Nino phenomenon has caused further damage to the kelp forest and has caused many oyster deaths.

Tasmania has already lost 95% of its kelp forests in the past 80 years but remaining species of kelp are more resilient.

According to Johnson the value of the Great Southern Reef is underestimated. The Great Southern Reef has more endemic species than the Great Barrier Reef.

Food for thought.

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Written by Mustapha Khalil

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