You might have seen seaweed overlaying the rocky shores alongside Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts. However do you know they will also be discovered within the Arctic, surviving lengthy, darkish winters underneath thick sea ice? In truth, the Canadian Arctic is residence to huge kelp forests, an extremely productive and essential coastal habitat. Kelp are massive brown algae that play an essential function within the marine surroundings, offering habitat and meals for fish and benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates.
Left: Sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) grows on a boulder along with different macroalgae. Proper: A collection of arctic algae (Neodilsea integra, Fucus sp.) within the foreground with the creator within the background. Roger Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature
This summer season, a group of researchers from the museum, together with colleagues from Laval College, flew to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, within the western Canadian Arctic. Their purpose was to review algal biodiversity and the ecology of kelp forests. In case you’re questioning “what’s algae anyway?” click on right here to be taught extra! We had large plans – to conduct a biodiversity survey of the realm, assess biomass utilizing squares (small survey plots) and arrange experiments to review the affect of kelp forests on fish and benthic invertebrates.
Among the group are on the brink of dive within the chilly arctic waters! Left to proper: Roger Bull (CMN), Camille Lavoie (Laval), Karen Filbee-Dexter (Laval) and the creator. Pierre Poirier © Canadian Museum of Nature
However first we had a little bit downside – discovering the seaweed! We knew there have been, and native data and former analysis by a museum phycologist (a scientist who research algae) within the Nineteen Sixties may give us some clues. We knew that the areas of algae have been patchy and never properly outlined because the shorelines round Cambridge Bay are typically cobblestone and sand, not usually a great substrate for rising kelp.
A typical shoreline within the Cambridge Bay space. This explicit location was south of Cape Colborne within the Gulf of Queen Maud. Amanda Savoie © Canadian Museum of Nature
With an enormous quantity of ocean to scour, we have been delighted to search out our first patch of kelp within the Findlayson Islands on day 6 of our journey due to our native information John Lyall Jr! After that day we have been properly on our manner and found new beds of seaweed nearly each time we went out. We have been additionally handled to a dizzying array of marine life, from solar stars to pteropods to tender corals among the many seaweed.
Left: John Lyall Jr., our skilled native information, on the helm of his boat, the Ugyuk. Proper: Kelp (Saccorhiza dermatodea) and different algae from a shallow, high-current website between two of the Findlayson Islands (west of Cambridge Bay). Left: Pierre Poirier © Canadian Museum of Nature Proper: Roger Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature
Above left: a spectacular black sea cucumber. Above proper: A inexperienced sea urchin tries to cover underneath items of algae. Backside left: A pteropod, or sea angel, swims by way of the water column. Backside proper: A shiny orange Solar Star stands out towards the grey floor. Backside left: Roger Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature Prime left and proper, backside proper: Amanda Savoie © Canadian Museum of Nature
On nearly our final day we had our most enjoyable dive but – an arctic seaweed forest! Ultimately we discovered a patch of seaweed dense and plentiful sufficient to kind a real underwater forest. We needed to go residence shortly after discovering this stunning place, however we plan to go to 12 months after 12 months and examine the modifications which are occurring because the Arctic Ocean warms as a result of international local weather change.
A chunk of Laminaria solidungula, a species of arctic seaweed, is surrounded by Saccharina latissima (sugar kelp). Roger Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature
Thanks to the Cambridge Bay group for the nice and cozy welcome, to John Lyall Jr. for sharing your experience, and to Polar Data Canada for supporting our analysis.
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Amanda M Savoie
Amanda research the biodiversity, biogeography, and taxonomy of marine macroalgae in Canada.