Bull Kelp Surveys
Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) forests provide critical habitat and food to a variety of species across the Salish Sea. Anecdotal evidence indicates declining kelp populations in some parts of Central and South Puget Sound, inspiring collaborative efforts to assess kelp abundance and distribution across the region to inform kelp conservation and recovery.
The Jefferson MRC has been participating in the regional bull kelp monitoring effort coordinated by the Northwest Straits Commission (NWSC) since 2014. MRC volunteers conduct monthly kayak-based surveys each summer to determine if the size and health of the large bull kelp bed off North Beach County Park is stable, growing or shrinking over time. See the MRC's 2023 bull kelp project summary report here.
Kelp data collected by all seven MRCs across the Northwest Straits region can be viewed on the SoundIQ map. This citizen science project is partnered with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, which is studying changes in kelp beds throughout the region.
- Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan (2020 Report) and Status Update (2023)
- The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp (Webstory)
- WA Floating Kelp Indicator - StoryMap and Interactive Map
- Kelp Forest Canopies Vital Sign: a New Health Indicator for Tracking the Health of Puget Sound (StoryMap)
- Kelp Forests Along Washington State's Strait Over a Century (StoryMap by DNR)
- Exploring Puget Sound's Kelp Forests (StoryMap by Puget Sound Restoration Fund)
- The Past, Present, and Future of Kelp in Washington (Presentation by Tom Mumford)
- Mapping Bull Kelp Forest Canopies with Aerial Imagery (StoryMap by DNR)
- The Kelp Highway (Video by Seattle Aquarium)
- Below is a video about the Northwest Straits Initiative's regional kayak-based kelp monitoring project. Additional information can be found at the Northwest Straits Commission website.