posted 27 June, 2022

MEDIA RELEASE: Miniature giants; a Giant Kelp display at Woodbridge

If you’ve ever wanted to get a glimpse into the world of the iconic Giant Kelp forests while keeping your feet dry, there’s a new display at the Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre that is giving visitors a unique insight into these giants of the sea.

Developed by staff at the Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre and the University of Tasmania with support from NRM South’s Tasmanian Smart Seafood Partnership, the display of juvenile Giant Kelp has been set up to help visitors understand more about marine biodiversity in restored Giant Kelp forests.

Immense forests of giant kelp once formed dense floating canopies around Tasmania’s coastline. Historically it was so abundant that it was marked on maritime charts as a shipping hazard, but today around 95% of this community has vanished from the seas around Tasmania.

Since the establishment of the Australian Government funded Tasmanian Smart Seafood Partnership (TSSP) in 2018, NRM South and the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council have been working with partners on a range of initiatives to support sustainable practices in the seafood industry and investigate options to restore Giant Kelp forests at key sites.

Dr Cayne Layton from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, who has been researching approaches to restore Giant Kelp forests, has provided juvenile plants to the Discovery Centre. These young kelp, growing inside a temperature-controlled aquarium, now form part of a display that describes the importance of Giant Kelp communities in our marine environment, their decline due to changing sea temperatures, and the research and restoration effort which is underway.

Jennifer Hemer, Water and Marine Program Manager at NRM South, explains that the display has been designed with a younger audience in mind, and is specifically aimed at students. ‘We’ve been working with staff at the Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre to develop this display, which will allow students of all ages from across Tasmania to learn about Giant Kelp communities and habitat, and how researchers are using innovative methods to restore these declining communities in a changing climate.’ Jennifer added that, through the TSSP, the Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre, NRM South and the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council have developed a suite of educational resources. ‘Teachers visiting the Discovery Centre can also access the TSSP Education Resource to support teaching and learning about the Tasmanian marine environment and seafood industry.

The Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre is currently open for school group bookings by appointment. The TSSP is hosted by NRM South and works in partnership with the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council. This project is supported by NRM South through Australian Government funding.