Not many people see how they can help the planet in less than nine months! Brian Meux and the team of marine biologists and volunteer divers at Santa Monica Bay Keepers are helping the Planet and restoring our giant kelp forests. Taking an urchin barren back to a healthy kelp forest is amazing and the work that SMBK does is fantastic!
For my fourth grade science classes, we are using their classroom study of Island of the Blue Dolphins as an entry point to understanding food chains in our area. In the book, Karana has interactions with elephant seals, sea otters and devilfish.
Each student discovered cool facts from Sea Otter Bingo and made their own Sea Otter as origami. As fourth graders, they found the noises of the elephant seal a bit funny but interesting. They were amazed at the size of the creatures and their large six inch teeth; the video we saw of them fighting was a bit scary! The devilfish (octopus) amazed us and we learned about the giant Humboldt Squid as well.
Brian Meux from Santa Monica Bay Keepers came to explain the restoration of the Giant Kelp Forests here in Southern California. Divers move thousands of sea urchins and within five to twelve months in some areas in Palos Verdes and Escondido Beach in Malibu the health of the ecosystem and the Giant Kelp are restored.
When the predators of the urchins (mainly the sea otter who were hunted to near extinction in the last century which is also discussed in the novel) were removed, the entire food chain is unbalanced and can lead to the destruction of the kelp, which is a habitat for 800 species. This real life food chain helped us to understand how fragile our ecosystems are and how we need to take care of them.
Santa Monica Bay Keepers and the volunteer divers in this program are doing great service to the ocean and all of us by helping to reestablish a healthy community under the sea. If you are a certified diver, you can join in and help with this project. Learn more at Santa Monica Bay Keepers and help restore the giant kelp or join in one of their other amazing projects!