A Deep Dive Into Kelp Killers



This week. I traveled to California's Mendocino county to scuba dive with local. Oh abalone fishermen Jank Lincoln's and Mike Escrow from the California Ocean Protection Council to get a firsthand look the impact that warmer waters lessee the stars and a massive increase in Purple Sia jains a having on everything from Kelp to abalone. I meet up with Mike Escrow. Who's is the marine ecosystems program manager the Ocean Protection Council Luckily for me. Mike's also a dive Mazda a former C. ground fellow and and hold a master's degree from cal State Monterey Bay in Marine protected areas might where are right now. We're here at Pebble beach on the North Coast and Sonoma's county and we're going to go out and try to see some abalone but probably gonNA see a lot of very much kelp unfortunately okay so in front of us. We have this yellow bag and it's got a lot of equipment that quite remember what I'm GonNa do is so well we got right. Here is as we have your scuba tanks so all your errors in here we got your. CD that stands for buoyancy compensation device and so that's going to help you adjust buoyancy underwater as you get a little deeper grier. GonNa add some areas. You get a little shallower. You're gonNA that Samaria out. We got regulator here which we're going to hook up to the tank so that you can breathe underwater. That's important all your rubber. All your neoprene so so that's GonNa keep you nice and toasty in that water which is probably about between fifty and fifty five degrees right now so you'll be glad you have that wetsuit in that best and it sounds like you know what you're doing which which has got because I'm glad I'm here. I hope I know what I'm doing. I've been now instructor for a few years now. So what do we do next should be putting your B. C. D. on your tank so I'm going to show you how you do that. This big strap goes around. How much do we have in this tank so this is this is a steel eighty so so you got eighty cubic feet of air in here dependent on your air consumption. That's probably anywhere between thirty five fifty five minutes air but we'll be checking in judge others air supply as we go through the coal now go ahead and turn it on you can hear it pressure as and we'll test it so most important thing second-stage's. That's purge valves. If you ever get any water you can just press that right. They'RE GONNA go ahead and take a breath. Make sure it's working compressed Air Nice. This is your alternate second-stage right here so that that's just the backup so take breath. This make sure it's working right. I love that first breath of pressure as their morning warning. This is an important piece right here. Here's your console all the data. This is all the data exactly this and piece of data right there. This is how much air you have in your tank and then he got a compass sounds. Jack's going to be doing most of our navigation today but if you want I want you can play around with the compass a little bit and help you navigate under water. We're not going down deep enough or stand down long enough to worry about kind of decompression but it's going to have so that's it. I feel good all right. I feel like I know what I'm doing now. So do we get changed now. I think it's GONNA be easiest to get changed now. Okay so we got booties. They probably go on last well. Maybe the hat goes on last-second. Say here's your suit so this is about seven or eight millimeter state is gonNA keep yeah yeah okay so go ahead and get that on once. You're all suited up. I'm going to do the same okay regret pefect before I go ensued up. I asked Jiang Lincoln's and local resident who's led the campaign to bring attention to abalone collapse and who will be leading today's dive to explain the device is now calibrating okay so I work with reef check which is a volunteer data collecting organization in California and I collect abalone Loni data for them. I measure the sizes of Abalone what I'm showing you. Here are some special calipers designed by Josh Russo who is also also a reef check diver specifically for measuring Abalone so that you can do it quickly underwater and it uses a plastic paper deeper and punches so you punch the paper on this zero location then as you measure abalone you punch and then when you're finished you can take the little piece of plastic paper out and measure all the size of the abalone is very fast very efficient and we can get up to one hundred fifty punches and one tank of air which is about half of what you need and a site to build evaluated super low tech yeah the little holes there yeah so from the histogram of size you can determine the size at maturity and you can determine the spawning potential ratio which is very important important in an abalone fishery okay so now for the moment truth. I have to actually get to freezing border. Okay this moment. I'm actually pretty nervous. I remember the last time I went scuba diving looking at the world fifty feet above my head and realizing that there was actually no way that I could make it out without at and unlike like the Caribbean and the border here murky and freezing okay now. I'm working with from the beach into the ocean. Okay I just was attempting to go down to the ocean floor but it's taking me a while to sort out the the right buoyancy level for this suit and God luckily I had gloves on because we were literally crawling along the ocean floor with our hands and the Purple Patch as far as I can see which admittedly was only about five feet but they I mean they were everywhere we stay down for about twenty minutes being moved around by very strong tidal surges and a lot of the time I talked just completely claustrophobic and directionless took a lot of effort to keep president and not give into fear it also took a while for my Easter just to the pressure which at first was just the pain was so intense and just crazy to painful bear then like magic. It disappeared getting out of the water. I'm filled with just so many emotions excitement to be exiting a very foreign weld Tara at the C. Hitch an infestation gratitude for Mike keeping me safe and the complete Adrenalin high just from being on this adventure then unfortunately we just starting to cough up some blood which I find out later was normal but at the time was just shocking okay mic that that was more of adventure than house quite intense coming in the water. Thank you for being such a good guide lead. Yeah you got it man. Absolutely as a challenging day we had limited visibility at say probably no more than five feet at any given time so pretty green down there and a lot of a lot of water movement so we were. We were blown back and forth pretty pretty good but with us fun it was. I just thought I was I mean I know I am cramp but like I just suddenly be floating floating back and I'm like Mike so when you see where we came out of the warden and you're like there's a lot of said made me feel a teeny bit. That's definitely the surgeon. I've experienced but I'm not a north coast either. I'm a I'm a Monterey diver so it gets it gets way more narrowly up here. So I mean to me is far as the I could see that were purple see the actions I mean it was he couldn't see that but as far as you could see they were everywhere yeah. There were a lot of them down. There and I think the craziest thing for me was just seeing how how how much they'd grazed. I mean they'd you know urgency grazers. They eat plants. They eat algae and they'd grazed everything down to bare rock. So's is pretty much urgency. As far as the I could see I mean I've never heard of them. Described as grazes yeah that's a technical term yeah but they're there and so the sea stars used to eat them mm-hmm and then they will wiped out. Yes exactly so so what happened is the sea stars are one of the major urging predators specially a couple of big species so sunflower stars which are picnic. Odia and giant giant spine stars which are species of highs astor. Those guys got hit really hard by sea star. Wasting disease started in twenty thirteen thirteen twenty fourteen really wipe those guys out and so without those natural predators to keep him in check. The purple urging just exploded so quickly though I mean like the timeframe Yo Tokiwa Matt is just kind of like often I think about climate changes slowly moving in like this has happened quick. Yeah I mean this is this is pretty much instantaneous. Ania on a on an ecological scale which is really

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