Bull Kelp Research Squad (BKRS)

Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), found along the North American west coast, is a species of kelp highly prized for both its ecological and commercial value. Bull kelp is unique among kelps due to the fact that its stipe, in addition to its blades, is extremely palatable for human consumption and can be used for a variety of products such as pickles, salsa, and other foods. Currently, all of the bull kelp on the market is sourced from wild harvest, but with permit-based supply limitations and climate change threats to the persistence of bull kelp forests, farmers and producers are looking to develop bull kelp farming techniques to source this desirable species. However, due to the unique morphology of bull kelp (i.e. hollow stipe, highly buoyant), traditional kelp farm arrays have not been successful in producing a desirable product. This past year, a working group of bull kelp farmers and researchers in Alaska was formed to address the successes and challenges of farming bull kelp and collaborate to develop a proof of concept that bull kelp can be farmed. By collaborating and sharing designs for innovative array designs and seeding methods, the bull kelp working group is establishing the basis of an industry that could be unique to Alaska.

Principal Investigator/Project Partners:

  • Alix Laferriere, NOAA AFSC
  • Angela Korabik, NOAA AFSC
  • Jordan Hollarsmith, NOAA AFSC
  • Heather Fulton-Bennett, NOAA AFSC
  • Mike Steckoll, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Tiff Stephens, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Tamsen Peeples, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Veronica Farrugia Drakard, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Angie Bowers, University of Alaska Southeast
  • John Harley, University of Alaska Southeast
  • Lia Heifetz, Barnacle Seafood
  • Jonny Antoni, Sea Quester
  • Olivia Duner, Sea Quester
  • Chryssa King, Sea Quester
  • Lexa Meyer, Alaska Ocean Farms
  • Alf Pryor, Alaska Ocean Farms
  • Nick Mangini, Kodiak Island Sustainable Seaweed
  • Caitlin McKinstry, The Native Village of Eyak
  • Alysha Cypher, Prince William Sound Science Center
  • Tesia Bobrycki, The Native Conservancy
  • Missy Goode, Alaska Sea Grant
  • Dave Bailey, Greenwave

Project Term: 2023-2024

Funding: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration