Kelp forests are the ‘biological engine’ of our Great Southern Reef, stretching around the southern half of Australia. Great swathes of kelp forests in Australia’s temperate south west have disappeared, and their demise is probably permanent.
The Indian Ocean off the mid-Western Australian coast is warming twice as fast as the global average. The findings come from a 15-year survey in Western Australia, stretching 2,000km from Cape Leeuwin in the south, to Ningaloo in the north. Over that time, nearly 1,000 square kilometres of kelp forest have vanished.
With climate change driving warmer waters and more heatwaves, we can expect more of these dramatic changes in the future.