Giant Kelp Restoration Project
Marine Biologist Nancy Caruso has been directing the Giant Kelp Restoration Project since 2002.
All of our Ocean Restoration Projects aim to restore our local Kelp Forest Ecosystem by getting citizens involved in the hands on work. This ensures that the community has a stake in the health of the restored ecosystem.
The program has combined the efforts of 7,000 schoolchildren from 32 schools and 250 volunteer divers to grow and restock these organisms in the ocean and it is working! We have successfully grown and planted giant kelp forests and they have returned in areas that were barren for more than 20 years!
Students in grades 6-12 have participated in this classroom program and were taught to grow the kelp in portable classroom nurseries. The year-long curriculum keeps the students engaged in hands on learning as they study kelp forest ecology, the history of it's decline in our local waters, aquaculture, water chemistry, and how to help conserve and preserve the forests
This project and all of our ocean restoration projects literally change the world and bring science to life' for students and everyday citizens involved in the projects..
This Project is only the beginning for Get Inspired, the kelp, and thousands of schoolchildren throughout Southern California. The kelp forests are growing far more than just new habitats, this effort is inspiring people to think beyond themselves and be part of something that is literally changing the world. Now that we have restored kelp forests, we have turned our attention to some of the species that used to live in them.
Green Abalone Restoration Project
Abalone are a snail like animal that once teemed the shores of Western North America. Since the 1850’s all 7 species have been serially harvested and now we are left with depleted populations including 2 endangered species and 3 Federally Listed Species of Concern. It is currently illegal to commercially harvest them in CA. Abalone were once part of a multimillion dollar fishery in Southern California and a HUGE part of southern California culture. Their sweet meat was once cheaper than a bologna sandwich and now commands up to $80 per pound. Likened to New England lobster and Maryland blue crab, this regional food could be found at most community celebrations until the 1970’s. Their impact on our culture can be seen in the architecture of homes in beach cities where abalone shells are imbedded in the walls of homes, mantles, and backyard fences. Laguna Beach was one of the most populated with abalone and was famous for abalone diving.
Abalone live in the kelp forests and their “job” is to keep the ocean bottom neat and tidy. They eat the fallen leaves of the kelp and are also an important food source for sea otters, crabs, octopus, batrays, and many fish species. Kelp forests are the backbone of our coastal ocean ecosystem. In 2011, we built “Abalone Nurseries” in schools for kids to learn the story of the abalone and raise them in school for release. Get Inspired’s mission is to Inspire curiosity and stewardship for the natural world through the exploration of science. We have been focused on our Orange County Ocean Restoration Project since our inception with a goal to create a healthy thriving kelp forest ecosystem along our coast through community involvement and ownership.
After a successful 15 month pilot study to restore the abalone to our local kelp forests, Get Inspired has launched a 10 year project to grow 100,000 green abalone and plant them along the southern California coast. In 2013, with great persistence and focus on our goal, Get Inspired was issued the first abalone restocking permit in nearly 20 years (the permitting process took 3 years). This project will be one of the largest endeavors to restore an ocean animal in history and will involve tens of thousands of people. 40,000 students will grow them in their classrooms and(6)public aquariums will grow them and tell the story of the abalone to educate their guests about their importance, conservation, and how we depleted this species in one human lifetime. We can learn from the abalone and together, can change the course of their extinction.
We just completed our first successful spawning on November 14, 2016 om an abalone farm up in Goleta, CA and will allow the abalone to grow for 1 year on the farm before bringing them down to Orange County to grow in schools and public aquariums.
Once an important game fish and commercial food fish, white sea bass had dramatically declined in California in the 1970’s. Surveys show the loss of habitat, specifically the loss of wetlands that are important nursery habitats for the fish, along with heavy commercial fishing, and the development of gill nets had depleted the white sea bass populations to 10% of what they were only 50 years ago.
To change this course, in 1983, the California Department of Fish and Game instituted the "Oceans Resources and Hatchery Enhancement Program" (ORHEP), and funded the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute's (HSWRI) experimental marine fish hatchery in Carlsbad, California. At this facility, white sea bass are bred from larval stage to 3-inches at which point a small "tag" inscribed with fertilization date and brood stock information is inserted into the jaw bone of the juvenile fish. The fish are then transported to one of 15 grow-out facilities along the California coast. To date, this program has released over 2 million white seabass along our coast. Get Inspired built the only indoor recirculating grow out facility for this program at Huntingtin Beach high school in 2010 and now there are 10 schools in Southern California growing white sea bass for release into the ocean. Nancy Caruso teaches fish biology, topics in aquaculture, kelp forest ecology, and the history of the ORHEP in the classrooms over the school year. The students tag and release fish along the coast of Orange county twice a year.