Forgotten Reef

Produced by Nikki Richardson, Kala Wahano, Bella Goward, Grace Beech, Isabella Sorenson-Hardy

10 years ago, much of Australia’s Southern coastline was teeming with thick forests of kelp. Parts of the Tasmanian coastal forests were so dense that some fishers recalled having to carve channels through it for their boats.

As an underwater ecosystem, kelp forests provide a habitat and food source for many species, including thousands of fish species caught for human consumption. 

Australian kelp forests have a high economic value and a 2019 Agricultural commodities report found that kelp forests support fisheries contributing more than USD$600 million to the national economy per annum.

The giant algae also protect shores against coastal erosion, and help to sequester carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere.

Warming ocean temperatures have contributed to the area being stripped of nutrients and resulted in new marine species thriving, killing off more than 95% of the giant kelp.

The way in which we communicate climate change and its associated impacts needs to be improved.

While science is crucial in finding solutions to environmental and other ecological crises, there is a gap between science and communication with the wider public. Through multiple channels including different media, we can work to expand the conversation.

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