Deforestation of the seabed
Algal forests are fundamental ecosystems that provide a refuge and food for many marine species. Various factors such as overfishing, invasive fish and climate change are contributing to their disappearance. Underwater deserts or algae-free zones take their place, leaving exposed rocky areas with barely any production or biodiversity.
Several institutions are researching the phenomena that cause the transition from an algal forest to an underwater desert. They are also monitoring how algae-free zones evolve and expand in order to prevent their appearance and assess the recovery of underwater forests.
How to get involved
If you dive, you can get involved in monitoring underwater deserts. Locate algae-free zones, take photos and state their location and size. Gather data at different times of year and report the presence of indicator species, such as sea urchins, salpa and rabbitfish.