Friday, November 24 , 2017, 7:28 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: The Value of Kelp Beds

(Photo via Capt. David Bacon)

Pondering the value of our coastal kelp beds came naturally while keeping my charterboat WaveWalker close to a beautiful kelp bed off of Summerland over the weekend.

Capt. Tiffany Vague chummed live anchovies and my charter customers cast to the gaps in the kelp fronds and hooked up with calico bass and halibut.

A scene like that under a sunny sky is truly something to smile about. This is fun and the fresh fish dinners will be nutritious and tasty.

That is one of our many coastal and island kelp beds that come and go with swells, water temps and a number of other factors.

They could be made more resilient and lush with custom hold-fasts like reef balls. As kelp beds are naturally, they build up and get pulled loose periodically when the weather and sea state get all riled up.

When the kelp beds are thick, they provide ideal natural habitat for fish and other critters. They provide anglers with great fishing opportunities for fish including calico bass, halibut, white seabass, sheephead and plenty more species of tasty fish.

Divers enjoy kelp beds whether they are just viewing, filming, or maybe spear fishing.

Our giant kelp are I believe, the fastest-growing plant on the planet, gaining up to two feet per day when conditions are ideal.

On days when the fish just weren’t biting, I’ve been known to say, “Oh, we’re not really fishing seriously today, we’re just here watching the kelp grow.”

I do recall days when we’ve fished a kelp spot for half a day and I swear I could see growth.

Another benefit of kelp beds is they take some of the brunt of waves which still will on beaches but swimmers have calmer water in which to exercise.

Many folks have some issues with swimming right in the kelp canopy on the surface. I’ve heard people say it feels creepy and they fear getting hung up in it.

But for those who take the time to get familiar and comfortable with the feel, the rewards in terms of the critters they swim with is deeply gratifying.

Our kelp beds are valuable to us, and I believe we should put considerable effort into doing all we can to foster kelp growth on solid hold-fasts. The critters will benefit and that’s enough to convince me of the value of kelp beds.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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