Dense growth of giant plant-like brown algae, known as kelp, found in shallow waters around the Marine Forests of South East Australia is progressively losing its ground to sea urchins. This sudden shift is devastating the balance of the underwater ecology, creating urchin barrens- bereft of life and vegetation. Consequentially, peripheral species that form an integral part of the food web are continually pushing off to the brink of extinction.
Scientists blame it on the effects of global warming that is increasingly devouring the Australian coastal ecosystem and destroying the biodiversity. 38 % of Kelp forests owe their destruction to rising ocean temperatures and warm seas which seems to have surpassed 3 degree Fahrenheit. Tropical species are making its way in, altering conventional marine habitats as in Tasmania and parts of Australia.
The tropicalisation phenomenon has engulfed the ecology in a way that cold water organisms are being increasingly replaced by tropical organisms. Often, these intrusive elements devour on the kelp, discouraging the growth.
The rapid shoot up in temperatures of the Atlantic ocean in western Europe has lead to the growth of turf algae, wiping off kelp in France, Denmark, Norway and southern England. In parts of the US expansive kelp forests running miles along the coastline fell victim to a massive die down. Thus, we see the effects of global warming have spread its tentacles to check kelp growths across the globe.
Besides ocean heat waves, pollution from waste water are among the plausible factors that has impacted the kelp forests leaving litters in the sub surface.
Researchers are bent upon active restoration efforts to recover and conserve kelp forests from further damage. Active restorative procedures have fetched considerable results in the past. For an instance, return of craywood forests in Australia, creating marine reserves that prohibits fishing and stops warm water variants to flock in cooler areas has yielded significant results.
Both- local as well as global causes leading to the decline need to be immediately checked in order to maintain the ecological balance. This refers to preventive mechanisms at the human end like reducing green house emissions and work towards taming pollution.