Help with Kelp

  • 298104 kelp photos identified
  • 11014 citizen scientists

How are kelp forests responding to climate change?

Common kelp – Ecklonia radiata – is one of Australia’s most important  habitat-forming species, creating beautiful kelp forests along the southern shores of Australia.

These forests are awash with marine life and are important ecologically and economically.  They’re also wonderful to snorkel or scuba dive over.

Unfortunately, the kelp forests are literally in a global hot spot – parts of the oceans around southern  and south-eastern Australia are warming at up to four times the global average. Scientists aren’t sure how the kelp forests, which prefer cooler water, will respond to this – will they move south or into deeper water?

Some kelp forests are also being affected by the invasive sea urchin – Centrostephanus rodgersii – which can decimate a healthy kelp bed.  They’re also affected by pollution, nutrient overload, coastal development and lots of other things.

So how can we untangle all these impacts and make management decisions that can help the kelp forests survive?

A team of scientists from all around Australia are looking at the potential impacts of warming waters on kelp ecosystems.  One of the first things they need to do is set a baseline – where are the kelp forests now and how deep can they go?


How you can help

Our scientists have thousands and thousands of images of the seafloor at various depths and locations taken by a robotic underwater vehicle (an AUV).  They need help identifying kelp beds in these images.

Can you volunteer some time to help by looking at the images and selecting points that lie on kelp?

Before you get started we’ll give you a quick tutorial so you know what to do.  And once you’ve identified 10 images you’re eligible to enter the competition to win an underwater camera.   If you’re a teacher or student you can enter your class as a group -  and once your class has identified 50 images you can enter the competition to win one of two schools prizes.

Join now
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