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Aerial Kelp Surveys

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducts coastwide (including the Channel Islands) aerial surveys of giant and bull kelp. The first aerial survey was conducted in 1989, with another survey in 1999; annual surveys began in 2002. Although CDFW strives to complete surveys every year, some years and regions were not completed due to budget constraints.  Geographic Information Systems (GIS) link opens in new windowshapefiles of the aerial kelp surveys can be found on the CDFW website as well as on MarineBIOS, a CDFW marine and coastal map viewer. Results of the aerial surveys are depicted below.

kelp survey graph


California Department of Fish and Wildlife aerial kelp survey results, 1989-2016 (surveys were not conducted in all regions and years).  Regions: South Coast – Point Conception to the California/Mexico border; Channel Islands the eight Channel Islands offshore of southern California; Central Coast – Pigeon Point to Point Conception; North Central Coast – Alder Creek near Point Arena to Pigeon Point; and North Coast – California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena.

Further Information

Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940  |  (831) 649-2870
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aerial survey, CDFW photo
Image from the 2008 aerial kelp survey at San Simeon Point, offshore of San Luis Obispo County (Administrative Kelp Beds 209 and 210). Kelp is depicted in red using the infrared band in the imagery.