UCSB Kelp Study

Kelp is on the menu for beach hoppers and other tiny critters that live on our sandy beaches!

Where does the kelp come from?

To find out, we are tagging hundreds of kelp plants. We need your help identifying exactly where these plants wash ashore and become food for beach bugs.

The UCSB Kelp and Sandy Beach Ecosystem study seeks to understand how kelp makes its way to the local beaches, and how kelp biomass that washes ashore influences sandy beach ecosystems along the Santa Barbara coast. The study will extend from June 2015 through May 2019, and is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Found a Kelp Tag?

As part of the study, 2000 kelp plants off the Santa Barbara coast have been tagged with orange 3” x 5 “ non-toxic biodegradable wooden cards. Each card has a unique five-digit identifier code that corresponds to its initial position off the coast in a kelp forest. If you have found a kelp tag on the beach please report the time and location found as this information will help with the study by providing data on where kelp is most likely to wash ashore.

An example of a kelp tag/card is given to the right. It will probably be found on the beach attached to the holdfast of a kelp plant. The unique card identifier is the 5 digit number at the top of card.

Kelp Card Image

UCSB Kelp Study in the local news

February 12, 2015

Wrack Without Ruin

by Richie Demaria

The National Science Foundation awarded a $997,312 grant to UCSB researchers this week for a study of the cross-ecosystem relationship between kelp forests and beach environments. A team of graduate and undergraduate UCSB researchers, led by Jenifer Dugan, associate research biologist at the school’s Marine Science Institute, will examine how washed-up drift kelp, or wrack, contributes to the food webs in sandy beach ecosystems.

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February 9, 2015

UCSB Researchers Awarded $997,312 NSF Grant to Study Kelp Ecosystems

by Chris Meagher for Rep. Lois Capps

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced Monday that UCSB researchers were awarded a National Science Foundation grant totaling $997,312 to study the link between kelp forests and beach ecosystems.

The project, conducted by a team under Jenifer Dugan, associate research biologist at the Marine Science Institute at UCSB, seeks to understand how near-shore kelp forests influence our sandy beaches...

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Location of Kelp tags found to date