The results of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW’s) 2016 aerial kelp survey are now available online. The 2016 survey covered both the full California mainland coast and the Channel Islands in Southern California.
Comparisons of the 2015 kelp canopy and the 2016 survey results show that both the south coast mainland and the Channel Islands experienced a decrease in kelp in 2016. The south coast mainland had almost half the canopy level surveyed in 2015, whereas the 2016 kelp canopy in the central through north coast regions increased from 2015 levels.
2016 central coast kelp canopy levels were almost double that seen in the 2015 aerial surveys.
North central canopy levels, while still low, were just over five times the 2015 survey levels, and the north coast canopy levels were just over twice the 2015 measured canopy levels.
The survey data is found on the CDFW website as shapefiles or in MarineBIOS, a CDFW Marine and Coastal Data Viewer. A graph depicting CDFW’s historic aerial kelp surveys is also located on the Kelp and Other Marine Algae web page.
post by Rebecca Flores Miller, CDFW Environmental Scientist