Popular Science: Northern California’s coasts are turning into underwater deserts
Francesca Koe has competed in freediving events all over the world, including vibrant tropical seas. Even so, the cold waters off Northern California’s coast are special to her. As an ocean advocate and advisory council member for the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, she appreciates the area for its natural wonders. “There’s nothing like diving in Northern California,” she says, “in terms of the biodiversity, the wilderness, the beauty.”
What Koe's referring to are the bull kelp forests of the region. These greenish brown algae latch onto the sea's rocky bottom and extend 30 to 60 feet up, forming thick stands that provide food and shelter for invertebrates, fish, and sea otters. It's one of just five global upwelling areas, where currents bring cold, nutrient-rich water up to the surface and create thriving ecosystems and fisheries. Though upwelling sites cover just one percent of the ocean's surface, they provide us with half of the global fish landings.