Conservation Blog Posts
Once abundant, white abalone were critically overfished in the 1970s. With the remaining wild white abalone so far apart from one another that they were unable to reproduce successfully, experts determined that captive breeding and outplanting were the best ways to save the species. After early breeding efforts were hampered by disease, the program headquarters moved to UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in 2011.
Written by Jane ParkUsing science to inform the restoration of California’s underwater forests
Kelp forests are underwater forests that support some of the world’s most productive fisheries and unique ecosystems. Kelp forests occur throughout the world. California’s kelp forests are particularly unique, as our “redwood forests of the sea” are among the tallest and most productive of the world: Northern California’s “bull kelp” grow an average of 4 in./day and can reach heights over 100 ft.
Dense canopies of kelp are a well-known and much-loved feature of California’s coastal waters. Kelp forests create subtidal havens for marine life like red and white abalone, urchins, sea stars, and rockfish. Once plentiful, kelp along the coast of California has faced multiple stressors, each exacerbating the devastating effects of the others. In 2013, many of the sea stars that once thrived in kelp forests fell victim to a mysterious wasting disease, leaving populations of urchins who were once consumed by voracious sea stars to feast on the abundant kelp without mitigating effects from predation.
By Malina Loeher
“Oh, because of Fukushima…” When beachgoers see my abalone shirt and ask about my conservation work, this is the misconception frequently returned to me in northern California. Coastal residents have been harvesting red abalone for hundreds of years, but recent population decline and closure of the last recreational fishery have brought abalone into the public’s eye.
Often I hear, “it’s because of the urchins!” or “climate change, am I right?”
The common thread between all of these statements is the amount of information they leave out. It’s not any one thing keeping abalone from reproducing, growing, and reestablishing populations. It’s the onslaught of several stressors all at once.