Central and Southern Region Kelp Consortiums

MBC conducts quarterly aerial infrared surveys to document the location and extent of kelp beds on the southern California coast between Santa Barbara and Imperial Beach, California. These surveys are performed for the Central Region and Region IX Kelp Survey Consortiums, consisting of about 17 dischargers. The Region IX Consortium was formed in 1983, and the Central Region in 2003. The aerial kelp bed surveys are conducted using direct, downward looking photographs taken from an aircraft modified to facilitate aerial photography. Quarterly overflights of the coastline are flown using 70-mm infrared and digital photography.

Annual inspections of selected beds are also performed by MBC biologist-divers. Digital files are assembled into one or more mosaics by bed. These mosaics are then geo-referenced and imported into ArcGIS. Surface canopies are then converted to polygons and their area calculated. Annual reports describe: oceanographic conditions and their effects on the relative health and size of the kelp beds; observed trends in surface area of the canopies; temperature monitoring results; storm conditions or other factors that may have influenced kelp canopies each year. Results are also presented to consortium members at an annual meeting.

Related Projects: Ongoing San Onofre NPDES Monitoring and Convair Lagoon Eelgrass Mitigation.