Get Inspired - Santa Monica, Escondido Beach

Restoration Project

Get Inspired - Santa Monica, Escondido Beach

Restoration Objective:

The objective of restoration efforts was to restore and sustain giant kelp habitat along the 300 miles of the Southern California Bight, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, in areas that historically supported kelp forest communities.

Site Selection Criteria:

Sites were selected that had historically hosted kelp populations.

Cause Of Decline:

Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is among the top primary producers in the near shore waters of central and southern California. Kelp forests provide food and habitat for over 800 species of organisms, and help protect shores. Over the past century, the regional extinction of the southern sea otter, untreated sewage outfalls, direct and indirect effects of commercial and recreational fishing, urban and coastal development, the establishment of urchin barrens, the increasing frequency and intensity of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, and shifts in the position of the Northern Pacific Gyre have all undermined the stability of the kelp.

Key Reasons For Decline:


Scientific Paper

Southern California Regional Kelp Restoration Project. Final Report of Project Archivities Covering the period September 1, 2004 through August 31, 2007

C. Wisniewski, P. Owens, T. Ford, N. Caurso, L. Bodensteiner, J. Altstatt, D. Burchham
California Coastkeeper Alliance, p.46.


Site Observations:

Observation Date

1st Feb 2004 – 1st Oct 2006

Action Summary:

Restoration combined transplants, urchin removals, and spore bags. Sporophylls were collected from natural kelp forests and cultured on non-glazed, non-leaded ceramic tile strips and/or natural fibre rope. Once plants reached 2-4 cm in height, they were outplanted on the restoration sites. Transplantation was accomplished by attaching drift kelp to the restoration reefs using natural rope and latex rubber bands to attach holdfasts to the reef. To make sporophyll bags, reproductively active sporophylls were collected from existing regional kelp beds, placed in mesh bags, and suspended above the restoration reefs with buoys. Urchins were moved offshore and away from restoration sites before and after transplantation.

Lessons Learned:

Kelp restoration was carried out using a range of methods (transplanting with drift kelp, urchin removals, spore bags, lab-grown juveniles).

Project Outcomes:

Initial densities of sea urchins averaged 13 per square meter and were reduced over time to one to two per square metre. Macrocystis pyrifera kelp plants were more abundant in restoration sites than in the control or reference sites.

Key Reasons For Decline:


Indicator Data:


Ending Value:

Starting Value:

Adult Kelp Density

/ m2
/ m2