The Kelp Forests Collection

Shot by Underwater Cinematographer Roger Horrocks.

Available in 4K+ RAW as licensable material.

Close-up of Stingray resting on Seabed
Location

False Bay

Duration

00:47

Dolly shot of Seabed in Kelp Forest
Location

False Bay

Duration

00:52

Explorative dolly shot through Kelp Forest
Location

False Bay

Duration

00:53

Eye-level dolly shot of Freediver surfacing
Location

False Bay

Duration

01:24

About Kelp Forests

Kelp Forests resemble astounding underwater jungles and are one of the most productive type of ecosystems worldwide. Kelp forests border one-third of the earth's coastlines and are found in cold, nutrient-dense oceans. These sea forests sustain and are home to countless marine mammal, invertebrate, and fish species. Moreover, the Kelp is a powerful agent against climate change owing to its super power of carbon sequestration.

Biology

Physical Traits

  • There are three types of algae: Red, Green, and Brown. Kelp is considered Brown Algae (algae is interchangeable with seaweed).
  • Kelp has three primary structures: The holdfast (similar to a plants root system), the stipe (comparable to a stem), and the blades (parallel to leaves).
  • The two most common seaweeds found in South Africa are Sea Bamboo (Ecklonia maxima) and Split Fan Kelp (Laminaria pallida).
  • Split Fan Kelp has a smaller structure and shorter stipe, usually totaling three feet tall.
  • Sea Bamboo, on the other hand, can grow up to 70metres, where the top of the structures can be seen atop the sea surface.
  • Sea Bamboo floats owing to its hollow stipe and strong yet flexible structure that can withstand strong ocean currents and rough sea conditions.

Reproduction

  • The reproduction process of the Kelp Forest is known as the 'Alteration of Generations'. It is a process where an adult plant produces spores and emits them into the ocean.
  • The spores grow into female and male spores and come together to produce "sporophytes"(baby kelps, if you will), which anchor themselves to the sea floor and grow into giant Kelps.

Ecosystem

Creatures

  • Kelp forests are miraculous ecosystems with diversity, productivity, action, and beauty.
  • The Kelp forest is home to and provides refuge for millions of sea creatures. From loads of fish (such as the Hottentot seabream) to a heap shark species that are endemic to the southern African region (pyjama shysharks, puffadder shysharks, dark shysharks, and leopard catsharks) to octopus, brittle stars, and oodles of astonishing multi-coloured nudibranchs (sea slugs).
  • The Kelp Forest benefits more than those that call it home. For instance, seabirds benefit from the Kelp forest by preying on the snails and crabs that live on the blades.

Structure and Balance

  • Similar to terrestrial Forests, Kelp forests can be divided into trophic levels: Canopy (the uppermost layer), Understory (the layer below the canopy), and Forest Floor (the bottom layer).
  • An important factor in the balance of Kelp ecosystems is herbivore grazers. If there is a sudden increase in one of these herbivores (for instance, urchins, snails, abalone, etc.), the growth of the forest can come to a halt. Likewise, if there is a depletion in an important herbivore, a Kelp forest can experience rapid growth and out-balance the ecosystem.
  • The thickness of the blades and fronds at the top of the Forest determines the amount of light that reaches the bottom layers, therefore affecting the productivity of the entire ecosystem.

Languid drift through Kelp Forest
Location

False Bay

Duration

01:03

Low-angle close-up of small Shoal in Kelp
Location

False Bay

Duration

00:33

Low-angle dolly Ascending through Kelp
Location

False Bay

Duration

02:12

Low-angle dolly shot Drifting towards Surface
Location

False Bay

Duration

01:12

Low-angle dolly shot following Seabed
Location

False Bay

Duration

00:46

Low-angle dolly shot moving over Seabed
Location

False Bay

Duration

00:51

Viability

Threats and Climate Change

  • Kelp forests face the challenge of an ever-changing ocean and rising temperatures. However, kelp forests worldwide are responding differently to climate change and anthropogenic threats.
  • Some Kelp forests are exposed to increased temperatures, deep sea mining, habitat destruction, pollution, and (or) coastal erosion. Different scales and combinations of these threats, and how they interact, shape and determine the state of the kelp forests and how they will respond to change. This is why nearly one-third of the kelp forests are growing while one-third are deteriorating.
  • Kelp Forests also play a crucial role in combating climate change. Through a mechanism known as Carbon Sequestration, the Kelp Forest captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more
  • efficiently than terrestrial Forests.

Conservation Status

  • In South Africa, Kelp forests are thriving. Owing to the change in wind patterns, there is an increase in productive upwelling. The upwelling drives productivity and therefore underpins a more productive ecosystem.
  • Kelp forests in Australia (specifically on the coasts of Tasmania) are extremely depleted, as only 5% remain.

Current Research

  • Evidence suggests that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other methods of area-based management are productive methods to protect Kelp Forests.
  • In Kelp forests that are deteriorating, artificial seeds and kelp implants are being used to stimulate growth. In addition, there have also been calls for grazer removals (removing species that feed on kelp, such as sea urchins, fish,or abalone) and altering fishery regulations to improve Kelp Health.

Charisma Factor

  • Many humans know the feeling of walking through a forest. Dense hordes of trees tower overhead, each tree abounding with life in every crevice of bark. Birds swoop, sing, and soar amid the lush vegetation. Creatures of all kinds harmoniously tick, and we are often left in more serene, tranquil temperaments.
  • Fewer are fortunate enough to glide through and encounter the serenity found in the underwater labyrinth of a Kelp forest.
  • The crowded, thick masses of kelp proliferate life, similar to its terrestrial counterpart. When submerged into this ocean chaparral, fish, squid, and marine mammals of all kinds encompass, astonishing us outsiders with its dynamic splendour.

Myths and Legends

  • Greek mythology abounds with seaweed symbolism. One story tells a tale of a Greek fisherman who eats magic seaweed to bring his catch back to life.
  • In Hawaiian cultures, a piece of seaweed and coconut fibres is braided into people’s hair as part of a ceremony that binds people together and represents the God of Maui, who was protected by seaweed after he was abandoned by his mother.
  • Japanese folklore includes seaweed in much of their stories and legends. Seaweeds in Japan were used to pay debt and taxes, and today, seaweed farming is a multi-billion-dollar industry.
  • Korean cultures believe that after birth, mothers should replenish energy and nutrition levels through seaweed soup consumption.
  • Chilean cultures believed of a woman called Lapincoya, a woman covered in seaweed who would seduce fishers to sea. She was also an indicator of a fisherman's future catch. If she was seen dancing toward the sea, it was a good sign.

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The Kelp Forests Collection

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