To the negative impact on the environment we have witnessed for the last 90 days, as a result of the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico, a note of hope: the Southern California Giant Kelp Restoration Project.
This project was launched in 2001 to reestablish historic kelp beds along the Southern California coast. The giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is a type of brown algae that grows on rocky reefs in ocean waters usually less than 80 feet deep, that by using sunlight and ocean nutrients forms a dense canopy resembling an underwater forest.
Why is this important? Because about 800 species of marine organisms depend on the kelp at some point in their life history. The deep ocean damaged today is also the home of organisms whose productivity is based on chemosynthesis, process by which most plants in the sea convert sunlight into useable biological energy. Many systems have been discovered in recent years, and the vast majority remain to be discovered. Providing humanity with food, economic benefits and recreation, living marine resources represent an important resource for current and future generations. These resources range from the tremendously productive phytoplankton, which help maintain atmospheric gas balances, sequester carbon, and form the base of many marine food chains, to corals, which build reefs that protect coastlines and create the most diverse ecosystems.