About Kelp Watch 2014

Kelp Watch 2014 is a scientific campaign, based on collaboration between Dr. Steven L. Manley (Department of Biological Sciences, California State University- Long Beach) and Dr. Kai Vetter (UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), and designed to determine the extent of possible radionuclide contamination (primarily Cesium-137 & -134) of our kelp forest ecosystem from seawater arriving from Fukushima in 2014. Initiated by Dr. Manley in early November 2013, the project relies on sampling canopy blades of the Giant Kelp (Macrocystis) and Bull Kelp (Nereocystis) several times during 2014. The project started as California centric but has continued to grow beyond the California coastline and includes locations in Baja-Mexico, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. A site off the Chilean coast will serve as a “reference” sample. Although kelps (brown seaweeds of the Order Laminariales) do not occur in tropical waters, related brown seaweed, Sargassum, will also be collected from waters off Hawaii and Guam. To date a total of 42 separate populations will be sampled, 31 in California waters, led by 42 marine scientists and numerous assistants. The participants are primarily from academia but also include educators from private organizations. Initially, all participants agreed to participate “pro bono.” Recently, however, USC-Sea Grant and California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) have agreed to contribute funds to the project, which will help defray the costs associated with collecting and processing the kelp.


Several institutions, Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (CSU), Coastal and Marine Institute (SDSU) and CSU- Long Beach, have volunteered to serve as regional processing centers. Processed kelp samples will be sent to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (UC-Berkeley) for detailed radionuclide analysis involving 4 scientists. As data becomes available it will be posted here for public access.