kelp tagged posts

Why Kelp Could Help Save the Planet

When we think of forests, we mostly think of tree-filled landscapes. But the ocean also holds emerald stands of trees so vast, they line one-quarter of our coastlines. “The area is probably equivalent to about the size of the Amazon rainforest, if you add it all up,” says Karen Filbee-Dexter, a marine ecologist doing a research fellowship at the University of Western Australia. These are kelp forests – one of Earth’s most beneficial ecosystems.

Kelps are a type of seaweed, or macroalgae, made up of roughly 33 genera and 112 species — though there remains some disagreement over what constitutes a kelp. What makes them unique amongst other seaweeds is mainly their large size – giant kelp (from the genus Macrocystis and the biggest of the kelps) can reach heights of 45 meters...

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Kelp found off Scotland dates back to last ice age

Scientists have discovered kelp off the coast of Scotland, Ireland and France that has survived since the last ice age, around 16,000 years ago. Experts from Heriot-Watt University’s Orkney campus analysed the genetic composition of oarweed from 14 areas across the northern Atlantic ocean. The team found three distinct genetic clusters.

It is hoped the discovery could help show how marine plant life survives extreme changes in climate.

Dr Andrew Want collected samples from Kirkwall Bay, near his home.

The marine ecologist said the “refugee populations” managed to hang on and survive “amid dramatic changes”.

‘Critical role’

Dr Want, who is based at Heriot-Watt’s International Centre for Island Technology in Orkney, said: “Oarweed in Scotland and Ireland is more closely related to populati...

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