Kelp is on its way at Point Holmes.
The Little River Enhancement Society and the Nile Creek Enhancements have joined forces to undertake a kelp reforestation project in the area.
The RBC Blue Water has awarded the project $5,000 that will be used to restore the kelp beds from Comox Spit to Point Holmes and up the east Coast of Vancouver Island that have been harvested to extinction legally and illegally over the years.
"It was our little forest in the ocean," said Peter Williams, president of the LRES. "There was solid kelp here. It was critical for all the water species that come in and out of here. At Little River and Nile Creek we raise and enhance streams. Even though this is salt water, it is a critical part of our work because our salmon live a year-in-a-half in fresh water and a year-in-a-half in salt in between. Kelp is important because it's coverage and food. It's the biggest carbon sink we have in the planet."
Kelp forests create sheltered areas and provide nutrients thus creating a hospitable environment for marine animals and other plants. It's a nursery ground for juvenile salmon and other fish species, a garden for grazing limpets and sea urchins and a smorgasbord for sea otters and seals. Some of the creatures found in and around a kelp forest are sea birds, seals, crabs, shrimp, sea stars, sea cucumbers, octopus, sponges, and as well kelp supplies critical spawning habitat for herring.
Area B director of the Comox Valley Regional District Glad Jim Gillis is pleased to see RBC come through with blue water funding for the transplanting of kelps.
"You take away one part of nature and it affects the other, said Jim Gillis of the Comox Valley. "So this is going to be an important part of getting the kelps beds back. Hopefully, they'll nourish and survive."
Williams said once the kelps are harvested it doesn't grow back by itself.
"You have to start all over again and you could be an old man by the time it's finished," said Williams. "Unless you start
Kelp was harvested commercially because it has a substance in it called carrageenan that could be used in over 200 common items like ice cream, peanut butter and cosmetics. Not that it can be produces synthetically, harvesting of kelp has almost stop. But it's not coming back due to the acidification of the ocean said Nile Creek Enhancement Society president Ken Kirby.
NCES has been involved in kelp reforestation in the Nile Creek Estuary in Bowser in the last six years.
"It has been tremendously successful," said Williams. "They're there and it's spreading this way. That's what we want to do, bring it up the Strait and just keep it going. It's still in Campbell River but here it was harvested out."
Kirby said they have been trying to encourage other groups to be part of the kelp reforestation effort and welcomes the Little River Enhancement Society participation in the project.
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