The kelp forests of Tasmania are home to several fish and sea creatures including the rare ‘weedy sea dragon’ and arealso a favouite atrraction for Scuba Divers. Kelp forests were found all along Tasmania's rocky coastlines such as these at Munroe Bight on the Tasman Peninsula. In certain places only 5% of its original amount remains. The decline of giant kelp forests in eastern Tasmania is associated with increased influence of warm and nutrient-poor East Australian Current water. The collapse of giant kelp forests is associated with ocean warming and loss of nutrients stemming from the increase of warm East Australian Current water in eastern Tasmania. Tasmania’s amazing giant kelp forests may be all but gone, but there’s still endless life among the weeds. Cast bull kelp, undaria and cast seaweeds and seagrasses are presently being harvested as commercial operations. Didn’t know there were kelp forests off of Tasmania? “Kelp forests are not only the foundation of the food chain in these ecosystems, but physically they create the habitat, they create that complexity,” Cayne Layton says. It’s quite concerning,” she says. Barrett … Sixty years ago, Tasmania’s coastline was cushioned by a velvety forest of kelp so dense it would ensnare local fishers as they headed out in their boats. Marine biologist and photographer Emma Flukes from Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, takes you on a tour of a vanishing world. Mick is co-owner of Eaglehawk Dive Centre, and diving among the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) has, until recently, been a large part of his business and a major draw for ocean-lovers to Tasmania. Gretta Pecl, a professor and director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania, says there are roughly 24 regions in the world that are considered ocean “hot spots” – known as a body of water in the top 10 per cent of ocean warming. Copyright © 2020 The New Daily. “Tasmania gets hit with a double whammy,” she says. Despite the outlook, Dr Ling says he’s hopeful that with careful, ongoing management, a resilient underwater landscape can be created. Baron, who owns Eaglehawk Dive Centre, has been exploring these waters for 50 years – but the environment he knew as a boy is vastly different to the one he knows now. Waltzing with the ocean’s undercurrent, I find golden bull kelp mesmerising as I snorkel beside the sea cliffs near Cape Hauy on a Wild Ocean Tasmania expedition. Drying bull kelp; harvested mostly for use in fertilisers and food (photo: Andrew Wilson). All rights reserved. According to Dr. Thomas Wernberg from the … They’re very big compared to ones on the mainland and the colours are really intense – strong reds, yellows and blues,” says Mick. “If we can better manage the habitats that underpin these fisheries and the biodiversity of these areas, then we’re doing what we can locally,” he says. “When we first started [the dive centre], giant kelp was everywhere, all along here, in any little alcove [it] was so thick, you had to part it with your hands as you were swimming,” Baron says. “Looking up and the sun [is] reflecting through, the light is dissipating through the leaves; it’s really, cool,” Mick says softly, momentarily transporting himself back to the underwater world he calls home. Get the latest travel news, reviews, offers and more, direct to your inbox. All rights reserved. Tasmania has lost 95 percent of its giant kelp forests over the last 80 years because of global warming. After researching the decline of kelp forests around the world, Canadian marine biologist Kira Krumhansl describes Tasmania’s losses as “shocking” and “tremendously alarming”. – What to do: Wild Ocean Tasmania’s Seal & Ocean Expedition charter includes snorkelling with fur seals and bull kelp. Research highlights sea urchin threat to coastal habitats . “We still get calls [from people saying], ‘Oh, I’d like to come down and [see the kelp forests]’. Scientists trying to save Tasmania's endangered giant kelp forests are calling on the public to record sightings of the seaweed by smartphone. Giant kelp is the primary source of alginates, emulsifying and binding agents used in cosmetics, and food stuffs such as ice cream. Explore. In order to highlight the plight of Tasmania’s giant kelp forests, friend of DiveBuzz, Rebecca Ramaley has recently launched a short video to capture her first hand experience of the disappearing kelp. Seagrasses . Still, he receives frequent enquiries from tourists wanting to swim through the ethereal forests. Within two weeks – it’s hard to believe – it jumped to over 17 degrees,” Baron says. Unfortunately, kelp forests in many locations in Australia are getting smaller. As gulls circle overheard, the now-65 year-old fondly recalls memories of giant kelp forests so thick “you couldn’t put a boat in there”. The Australian island state has lost more than 95 percent its kelp forests in recent decades. Travel. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agrees on the 2.3-degree increase, but says this amounts to just twice the global average. As Darwin noted ‘if in any country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so many species of animals would perish as would here, from the destruction of the kelp’. “For us, it wasn’t a big focus business-wise but it’s definitely going to play a major role in the changing of this environment, which is super sad,” he says. Get The New Daily free every morning and evening. Forest locations were Fortescue Bay and Munro Bight. Except it is no longer a forest and there are just a few scant patches left. Enter the Rock Lobster. After researching the decline of kelp forests around the world, Canadian marine biologist Kira Krumhansl describes Tasmania’s losses as “shocking” and “tremendously alarming”. Satellite images taken over three decades by IMAS show the decline of Tasmania's once extensive giant kelp forests. In Tasmania, kelp forests support endemic species, such as the leafy seadragon, as well as commercial fisheries, including rock lobster and abalone, together worth $180 million statewide annually. 95% of the iconic giant kelp forests in Tasmania have disappeared, and are now listed as an endangered marine community. There is also about 0.3 km² of kelp forest in this area. The Habitat Atlas indicates that there are about 3.3 km² of rocky/cobble reef remaining in the Derwent estuary predominantly in the lower estuary and along the coastline between Taroona and Tinderbox. Professor Johnson said the second question could be answered using lessons learned from Tasmania’s experience with kelp forests, which were devastated by invasive sea urchins to form sea urchin barrens devoid of kelp and other seaweed, the result of ecological overfishing of lobsters which are the key urchin predator in Tasmania. It was a shock to the system. The underwater forests, which once dominated the state's east coast, have dwindled by more than 95 per cent over decades due to ocean warming and pollution. Key points: Scientists are concerned kelp loss is "out of sight, out of mind" drivers of kelp decline is a critical first step in restoration. “Tasmania is certainly helping to lead the way in those efforts,” she says. “What we’re seeing is these really interesting changes that confirm our suspicions about how warming is going to completely transform temperate reef systems into something more like a coral reef,” Dr Ling says. Didn’t know there were kelp forests off of Tasmania? By day, the forests of giant and common kelp along Tasmania’s east coast are powerhouses of productivity, providing food and shelter for a wealth of fish, crustaceans, and molluscs, including two of Tasmania’s most valuable commercial species, rock lobster and abalone. Long-nosed fur seals among bull kelp, Tasman Peninsula (photo: Jennifer Ennion). As of January 2013, the forest at Fortescue no longer exists. Being among kelp is a special experience, even if it’s not Macrocystis. The satellite images, taken between 1986 and … The patches that remain in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are protected under How do pandemics usually end? But the kelp isn’t the death warrant for Tassie’s ocean operators; there’s still plenty to see, they say. “The primary driver of the decline in our giant kelp forests has been the extension of the East Australian Current (EAC) into Tasmanian waters as the ocean climate in eastern Tasmania warmed,” Professor Johnson said. For instance, high sedimentation from coastal run-off may bury new plant shoots. The BBC says: Giant kelp is the largest marine plant in the world, reaching up to 30m in height. Non-point and point source pollution including sewage, industrial disposal, and coastal runoff might contribute to kelp forest degradation. According to scientists from the CSIRO and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), the sea surface temperature off Tasmania’s east coast is warming at a rate of 2.3 degrees per century – equating to roughly four times the global average. Oceania Destinations. About this fact sheet The Giant Kelp Marine Forests of South East Australia ecological community has been progressively lost, especially on the east coast of Tasmania, due to changing oceanographic conditions and corresponding changes in threatening processes caused by climate change. Since the 1960s, Tasmania’s once expansive kelp forests have declined by 90% or more. The small-town vibe, the culture, the people, but above all else, you’ve got to love the food. kelp forests, Tasmania, environment. Despite this, public and political awareness of the scale and significance of this marine ecosystem is low, and research investment miniscule (<10%), relative to comparable ecosystems. TAS: A diver claims giant kelp forests on the state’s East Coast have “completely disappeared”. She says eastern Tasmania is “at the pointy end” of the scale, and says other hot spots include the waters off the south-west of Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands, the Arctic Circle and the south-western tip of Australia. “There’s no doubt about it, our dragons are really unique. On remote King Island, seaweed is harvested mostly for use in fertilisers and food, but this is bull kelp. Since the 1960s, Tasmania’s once expansive kelp forests have declined by 90% or more. “The rate of change that we see now is still going to increase, even if we stopped all the pollution … the snowball effect is already there.”. Tasmania’s na... What do you get when you combine Hobart's iconic history, art and style? Although Eaglehawk Dive Centre no longer offers the kelp diving, there are still small patches of forest around South Bruny and off the West Coast, but no tourism operations there. 95% of the iconic giant kelp forests in Tasmania have disappeared, and are now listed as an endangered marine community. Behind him, seals laze in a half slumber on slick rocks that stand at the foot of towering sea cliffs – the entrance to a diver’s paradise. The last giant kelp forest on the east coast of Tasmania has been confirmed lost due to rapidly increasing ocean temperatures. “This is not just a little pulse that’s come and gone,” reef ecologist with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Scott Ling says. As is often the case, climate change has a ripple effect, impacting other marine species as well as the tourism industry. “As the atmosphere above the Pacific warms, that gyre speeds up, so it’s literally a spinning wind field that then strengthens the EAC and physically pushes it further and stronger down our coast,” Professor Pecl says. In 2011, Rebecca dived and captured the superb kelp forests of Fortescue Bay on the Tasman Peninsula. Above the water, thick strands nest together in what look like sea beds for barking seal calves. ... Mr Baron said a giant kelp forest at Munro Bight in the South-East was the last patch of forest on the East Coast. A long-nosed fur seal pokes its face toward the kelp, as if searching for food behind the shimmering curtains. In Tasmania, this has been exacerbated by extreme marine heatwaves in three of the past five years. Travel Destinations. The future of his diving business is increasingly unclear. 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