In a Changing Ocean, Giant Kelp’s Reproductive Success Depends on Where It’s From
When a marine heat wave hit California’s coast in 2014, it brought ocean temperatures that were high for Northern California but fairly normal for a Southern California summer. Much of the giant kelp in the north died in the heat wave, while southern populations survived.
"Five years ago, the Gulf of Alaska warmed to record temperatures, likely due to a sudden acceleration in the melting of Arctic sea ice. Usually a cold southern current flows along California. That year, the warm “blob” spread down the coast and, instead of blocking tropical species from moving north, it served as a balmy welcome to a variety of animals far from home."
Growing up I was no different than the rest when it came to water “weeds”. I was terrified to feel the slime and whip-like stalks wrap around my legs as I waded into streams and lakes. The horrifying mixture of slippery rocks (diatoms), feather-like strands of filamentous algae on my legs, and squishing sediments between my toes sent strains of panic up my spine. As kids we perpetually persevere; my focus at the time to remain as close to the water surface as possible so as not to contact the dark abyss of the stream bottom (and the horrific photosynthesizers) again.
BML Director Gary Cherr's research focuses on reproductive biology and environmental toxicology. He became an Aggie in the 1980s, when he enrolled at UC Davis for graduate studies in zoology. His latest research focuses on the effects of nanoparticles on marine life.