The Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project and Channel Island Expeditions Announce California’s Largest Community-Led Kelp Forest Restoration Event on June 13th-14th, 2022
Monterey, California, May 3rd, 2022 – The Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project (G2KR), has partnered with Channel Islands Expeditions (CIEx) to host a massive underwater kelp forest restoration effort at Monterey’s Tanker’s Reef on June 13th and 14th, 2022. As part of an ongoing restoration project, trained volunteer Kelp Restoration Divers will be deployed to an underwater restoration site in an effort to save Monterey Bay’s disappearing kelp forests.
Since 2014, Monterey’s once-thriving kelp forests have been eaten by an explosive overpopulation of sea urchins. The year prior, a disease wiped out sunflower stars, the urchins’ natural predator. Combined with a multiyear marine heat wave which exacerbated the disease, the purple urchin population skyrocketed to nearly 260 times the normal levels, creating underwater deserts, known as urchin barrens. As giant kelp forests have declined 59% since 2013, they are replaced by urchin barrens, resulting in hundreds of animals, including the endangered California sea otter, being left without food or habitat.
In an effort to protect and bring back Monterey’s kelp forests, G2KR Founder and Executive Director, Keith Rootsaert, and his team have mobilized a community of trained volunteer scuba divers to reduce the urchin population at a 2.5-acre underwater restoration site at Tanker’s Reef off of Del Monte Beach.
In 2021, G2KR, in partnership with NAUI and PADI, launched two internationally recognized Kelp Restoration Diver certifications which are taught at select Monterey dive shops and area dive clubs. As part of the certification, recreational scuba divers with fishing licenses learn how to safely cull the out-of-control urchin numbers at Tankers’ Reef without harming other marine life. In the first season of working on the project, volunteers logged just over 600 dives.
This coming June 13th and 14th, G2KR’s partnership with CIEx will bring the 85-foot Vision dive boat to Monterey, which will provide hot meals and transportation for 30 trained Kelp Restoration Divers per day to Tanker’s Reef. “Thanks to the Vision, we can have divers do up to three dives per day at the site and significantly reduce the urchin numbers at Tanker’s Reef,” says Rootsaert.
Garrett Kabbabik, CEO of Channel Islands Expeditions, says, “We're committing each year to projects that reduce our carbon footprint, and this year we’ve chosen to pitch in to help G2KR. Kelp absorbs carbon dioxide and generates oxygen. Kelp forests draw divers to the sea. Divers are humanity’s eyes on what we’re doing to the oceans.”
Marine conservationist and G2KR board member Marc Shargel solicited the help of CIEx. “Divers, kayakers, and tourists travel to Monterey for a chance to visit a kelp forest,” he says. “We’re so grateful to have the Vision here to boost our productivity so local kelp forests can have a chance to survive and even recover.”
Certified divers with local experience can get trained to help protect and restore kelp forests. Learn about the Kelp Restoration Diver certification at g2kr.com/volunteers.
About the Giant Kelp Restoration Project (G2KR)
G2KR is an initiative of the California Kelp Restoration Corps, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to monitoring, protecting, and actively restoring California’s kelp forests. G2KR develops training for citizen-scientist divers in kelp restoration methods, communicates about the impact of public policy on kelp forest restoration and conservation, engages communities through volunteer programs, and collaborates with scientists and government. The mission of G2KR is to enable California’s kelp forests to thrive and provide benefits to marine wildlife and humankind for future generations.
To learn more, visit their website at g2kr.com and follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/UrchinsKelpOtters/. Media contacts: Gen Rohe, Marketing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org and Kacy Cooper, Outreach Director, email@example.com.
About Channel Islands Expeditions
The mission of Channel Islands Expeditions is to immerse our guests in the beautiful Channel Islands through adventure and education. Spending time at the Channel Islands fosters a life-long appreciation for the ocean. We hope that experiences with us will make our divers, kayakers, campers and hikers lifelong stewards of our oceans. Visit us at explorechannelislands.com.