Water Quality Testing
Volunteers have been monitoring bull kelp at various locations around Whidbey and Camano Islands for over 10 years. See the Bull kelp project page for a description of the bull kelp monitoring and some statistics about temperature and salinity taken during the monitoring events. When the volunteers are out in their kayaks, they wonder about what causes some areas to have healthy populations of kelp and other areas to exhibit a decline.
Similarly, the MRC has published a storymap about eelgrass in the waters of Island County.
There are many things that can influence the growth rate and abundance of kelp and eelgrass, including physical factors such as temperature and light, chemical factors such as nutrient load, and biological factors such as prevalence of sea urchins. To try to understand what might be affecting the particular areas around Island County, the MRC decided to consult with experts about what stressors may be most important in our waters.
For the first year of this project, the MRC will reach out to interview researchers and others about what stressors are being monitored already in the Island County area. We will compile a list of all the water quality data collection in the vicinity, including what type of instrumentation is used and what procedures are used to ensure quality data. The MRC will then work to fill in any gaps in data gathering that specifically affect the underwater vegetation in Island County.
Instrumental to this scientific exploration are the experts that are part of the Science Advisory Committee of the NW Straits Commission. The MRC envisions an iterative process of consultation that tries out various hypotheses and gathers lines of evidence to support conclusions about stressors that affect the natural systems in the water around Island County.
The MRC is grateful for the volunteers that have carried out the monitoring programs over many years, and would like to support them by answering the questions which have left them wondering – what is causing changes to the abundance of kelp and eelgrass?