BOWMAN BAY — With the morning sun glinting off the water, and gulls, herons and oystercatchers flying above, three kayakers slid their boats into the water at Deception Pass State Park.

While this state park attracts more visitors than any other because of its stunning waterfront beauty, these kayakers weren’t recreating, but gathering data to be used in ongoing research.

Kelp survey

Volunteer Bob Weathers shows the GPS route he logged Aug. 5 as he encircled a bull kelp bed at Coffin Rocks as part of ongoing research into kelp health in the Salish Sea.

Kelp survey

The bull kelp bed around Coffin Rocks has remained stable since volunteers began surveys by kayak in 2016, as shown in screenshots (general site location shown at left, zoomed in on kelp bed at right) from the Northwest Strait’s data mapping program. Each color follows the average outline of a sampling year.

Kelp surveys

Bull kelp grows from the seafloor and sprouts long leaf-like tendrils that sway in the tides. The region’s kelp beds are like underwater palm tree forests that support a variety of marine life.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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