Seaweed lecture at the Lopez Library

Join Naomi Vliet on Thursday, Jan. 12 from 6-7 p.m. for the lecture “Sori, I Can’t Kelp Today: Effects of rising ocean temperature on bull kelp.”

Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) is a critical species of brown seaweed in our region. As the largest species of kelp that grows in most of the Salish Sea, it forms critical habitat in the form of underwater kelp forests, as well as being a food source for many marine animals. Unfortunately, bull kelp forests have been shrinking and disappearing. In the Salish Sea, this decline has been linked to rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change. Researchers are working to learn more about the temperature tolerances of bull kelp and to protect and restore kelp forests in our region.

Naomi’s research at Friday Harbor Labs looked specifically at the possible effects of a short-term heatwave on the reproductive tissue (sori) of adult bull kelp. She exposed reproductive tissue to a range of warm temperatures, then grew a new generation of baby bull kelp to see what effects there were on their lifecycle. She also grew the baby kelp at a warm and a cool temperature to see if there was any change in their temperature tolerance due to the high temperatures experienced by the reproductive tissue. The results from this study helped to understand the effects of current heat waves on bull kelp, as well as potential future effects as ocean temperature continues to rise.

A graduate of Lopez Island High School, Vliet is completing degrees in Science Education and Music Education at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. She spent the past summer doing marine biology research at UW’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. Naomi is passionate about science communication and after graduation plans to become an educator as well as continue to be involved in research.

To learn more,