Wellington Harbour’s underwater forests are under pressure.
Marine heatwaves, overgrazing by too many kina, sedimentation that blocks out light – these are the main stressors for giant kelp, says Dr Christopher Cornwall of Victoria University of Wellington. He’s been monitoring different sites within the harbour, as well as running experiments in the lab to test the kelp’s ability to deal with warming waters.
Christopher has been collaborating with the Love Rimurimu project, and his findings feed into the project’s aim of regenerating Wellington’s seaweed forests. The research helps the Love Rimurimu team identify the best sites for kelp reforestation.
With a five-year consent to pilot some planting, project lead Zoe Studd is expecting a lot of trial and error, and learning as they go. The kelp is grown at NIWA and returned to the ocean at different sites through collaboration with Taranaki Wānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna and the local community. Ongoing monitoring will track the progress of the plant-outs.
Listen to the episode to hear Christopher and Zoe talk about the importance of kelp, the threats it faces, and the work that the Love Rimurimu project is doing to try to help.