After the Great Barrier Reef has been severely affected this year due to climate change, experts remembered about the Australia Southern Reef, which experienced the same weather event that eventually devastated its kelp forests.
Five years ago, a tremendous heat wave took its toll on the Great Southern Reef, which is situated along the temperate southwestern and southern coast of Australia.
According to Thomas Wernberg, University of Southern Australia marine biologist and lead researcher of the latest study, the same leading causes were identified in both cases.
Some 21 scientists from various Australia institutions and abroad joined their efforts to determine the consequences of such a weather event and how to deal with this problem.
The kelp forests that can be seen along the coast of California are already quite popular among the American population. Kelp forests are enormous seaweed organisms that grow up to more than 30 meters in cool waters where the sun sometimes reaches the bottom.
The Australia kelp forests from the Southern Reef are not as tall as the ones from California, but they have a crucial role in the balance of the ecosystem as they are home to many water creatures.
It is worth mentioning that the Southern Reef also represents an important part of the Australia’s economy consisting of $10 billion every year from various benefits including fisheries and tourism.
Back in 2011, the ocean temperatures hit a peak of 37 to 41 degrees above the limit, leading to the highest temperatures over the past 215 years. The kelp forests along the southwest coast of Australia were devastated, all due to these high temperatures.
Wernberg stressed that the northern kelp forests were practically destroyed in just a few months during that year. Worse, a few hundred kilometers of kelp forest in the southern area were wiped out.
During the study, scientists established that the heat wave registered at the end on 2010, covered 70 percent of Australia Midwest coastal area. The situation got better in 2013, when the affected area dropped off to 371 square miles, or 43 percent.
The northern kelp forests of Australia have been destroyed in a proportion of 90 percent, and experts believe that they are less likely to recover after such as devastating weather event.
Then, many tropical species of fish have gathered in northern part of the Australia Southern Reef and started feeding on the kelp preventing it from growing back.
Image Source:CS Diving