"APPLEDORE ISLAND, Maine — When diving in the Gulf of Maine a few years back, Jennifer Dijkstra expected to be swimming through a flowing kelp forest that had long served as a nursery and food for juvenile fish and lobster.
But Dijkstra, a University of New Hampshire marine biologist, saw only a patchy seafloor before her. The sugar kelp had declined dramatically and been replaced by invasive, shrub-like seaweed that looked like a giant shag rug.
"I remember going to some dive sites and honestly being shocked at how few kelp blades we saw," she said.
The Gulf of Maine, stretching from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, is the latest in a growing list of global hotspots losing their kelp, including hundreds of miles in the Mediterranean Sea, off southern Japan and Australia, and parts of the California coast."