University of Portsmouth lecturer appears alongside Sir David Attenborough to promote vital underwater regeneration project

Sir David Attenborough''Credit: David Parry/PA Wire
Sir David Attenborough''Credit: David Parry/PA Wire
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A UNIVERSITY of Portsmouth lecturer appeared alongside Sir David Attenborough in a BBC1 documentary promoting a campaign to regenerate ‘vital’ underwater forests that boost marine life and help reduce climate change.

Dr Ian Hendy, of the Institute of Marine Sciences, and Sir David, spoke of the need to restore the Sussex kelp forests after damaging fishing practices in the 1980s have left the underwater area virtually non-existent.

Dumping sediment close to shore, blocking the kelp’s light, has also been behind the decline, having a detrimental impact on sea life such as lobsters and cuttlefish.

In the documentary Sir David said: ‘These forests are among the most productive places on earth supporting a huge range of marine life. 

‘The forests are vital nursery ground givings, giving sanctuary to many commercial fish as they feed and hide.

‘These forests are so special they are one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet, home to thousands of species from spider crabs searching for food on the forest floor to lobsters hiding beneath the canopy.

‘Every part of this remarkable forest is used by the creatures there. The forest creates an oasis of life wherever it grows.’

He continued: ‘We’re discovering these underwater forests are vital not just for sea life but for climate change. Reaching up to the sun the kelps lock up vast amounts of carbon as they grow.’

In the video Ian Hendy said: ‘Globally kelp forests will draw down more than 600m tonnes of carbon. This is roughly twice the amount of carbon the UK emits per year. What that’s doing is reducing climate change.

‘They stabilise the sediments, reduce wave energy by up to 70 per cent and as a consequence of that carbon being drawn into the kelp, the kelp will pump out lots of oxygen and oxygenates the water and creates a whole biodiversity for a whole range of wildlife to survive.’

An exciting plan to regenerate the Sussex kelps forest is underway, led by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, The Sussex Wildlife Trust, and the University of Portsmouth. 

By pushing trawling away from the coast it is hoped nearshore habitats and fish will thrive – giving kelp forests a chance to regenerate and regrow. 

Ian added: ‘If we are successful with this restoration project in Sussex the amount of marine wildlife this will generate will be fantastic.

‘We need these kelp forests, we need them to purify the water, we need them to have the nursery function back and we need them to reduce localised areas of climate change.’

The Help our Kelp film was created by Sarah Cunliffe and her team at Big Wave TV click here.