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March 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Now Kelp Forests Take a Beating

from the March, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Undercurrent gave the oxygen of publicity to the plight and imminent demise of the corals of Australia's Great Barrier Reef due to global warming, but upset a few readers who harbor the opinion that humans are not involved in climate change. Regardless, next on the destruction chain are forests of kelp, seaweed-like algae, which are under attack by invasive fish species moving into warming waters.

"Kelp forests provide vital habitat to hundreds of marine species, including fish, lobster and abalone," says Dr Adriana Vergés of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. "As a result of climate change, warm water fish species are shifting their range and invading temperate areas. We found that two warm water species -- rabbitfish and drummerfish -- were the most voracious, eating the [kelp] fronds. Over-grazing by these fish can have a profound impact, leading to kelp deforestation and barren reefs."

Of course, California's Pacific Coast is warming up faster than it has in millions of years, and all sorts of fish found normally way down the coast of Mexico are beginning to call it home as the kelp declines. (Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.)

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