Underwater divers with the group make the trip two to three times
a week to plant the kelp on reefs on the cove's ocean floor.
"Of everything we plant out there, about 80% doesn't make it,"
said Garry Brown, the executive director of the group. "We have to
keep going back and replanting and replanting to get a reef going."
What began as a pilot program in early 2000 at Little Corona Beach
has blossomed into a full-fledged planting effort to help reestablish
the lush kelp forests of the 1950s and '60s, Brown said.
Since that time, kelp plants have virtually disappeared off the
Newport Beach shoreline. The plants are harvested for shampoo,
ointments to treat psoriasis and other commercial products.
Now, the group has brought three canopies of kelp to the waters at
Crystal Cove, Brown said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration handed the
statewide CoastKeeper group $600,000 for kelp reforestation for a
three-year time frame.
On Sept. 1, the group will begin the second year of that grant,
which must be matched with an equal amount from the group.
A marine biologist hired by the group incubates the tiny spores of
kelp in a lab at the Southern California Marine Institute on Terminal
Once they are attached to the strips of tile with latex rubber
bands, the baby kelp plants are grown at between 52-and 57-degree
heat to almost an inch tall. The group then calls on a handful of its
more than 300 volunteer scuba divers to place the kelp in the ocean.
Long strings of leafy kelp helps add a much more diverse
collection of sea life to the cove, Newport Beach Asst. City Manager
Dave Kiff said.
"It's terrific that CoastKeeper has stepped up to do it," Kiff
said. "Having the kelp there should allow for a much more diverse set
of species. It's giving nature a helping hand."