Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kelp Garden

5.5 x 6" acrylic painting
The garden of flora and fauna lining the shore of outlying Pacific islands is abundant and diverse.  This image is of a shoreline garden with a somewhat protected exposure on a balmy day.  This is a habitat totally different from that exposed directly to the crashing rollers of thousands of miles of ocean.  Macrocystis, the ubiquitous kelp found anchored in deeper water, fringes the sea garden providing it with even more protection from breaking surf.

Before sea otter were reintroduced here the kelp beds were drastically reduced by sea urchin, making a huge difference in the balance of life in the entire ecosystem.  Now that otter have reestablished locally, their voracious appetite for urchin has restored the offshore kelp forests.  Balance is a tenuous thing though and the otter have also made their presence known by the relative decrease in clams & crab, other favorite meals.  It will be interesting to see how the impacts of climate change effect the ying and yang of the Pacific fringe.

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