The Puget Sound Restoration Fund has been awarded a $1.5 million grant by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to investigate seaweed cultivation as a potential strategy for mitigating ocean acidification. The initiative, Cultivating Seaweeds in Puget Sound to Protect Shellfish and other sensitive species from Ocean Acidification, will be led by Dr. Jonathan (Joth) Davis, senior scientist, and Betsy Peabody, executive director, at the Puget Sound Restoration Fund in collaboration with the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among many other partners.
The grant was first announced on April 2 at the Seattle Aquarium during the Addressing Ocean Acidification: Innovation, Cooperation and Leadership event. Over the project’s five-year timeline, it aims to harness the ability of marine macro algae to extract dissolved carbon dioxide and other excess nutrients in order to mitigate ocean acidification and eutrophication in Puget Sound. This will have the potential to create protective halos in the vicinity of the seaweed that may provide critical habitat for marine species and valuable by-products such as food, bio-fuels and fertilizers.
“Collaborators in Washington State have made huge strides to spotlight the problem, document chemical changes and biological effects, and adapt within hatchery systems,” said Betsy Peabody, founder of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. “We need to make equally huge strides in developing strategies to mitigate these effects within marine systems, and this grant from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation gives us an incredible opportunity to do so.”
Serving as the project lead, the Puget Sound Restoration Fund will implement the cultivation component of the project, provide expertise for the development and management of seaweed cultivated in north Hood Canal and provide shore and sea-based support and sampling expertise to the assessment and modeling teams.
Founded in 1997, the Puget Sound Restoration Fund works collaboratively to restore marine habitat, water quality, and native species in Puget Sound. The organization is committed to a vision of a clean and healthy Puget Sound that is productive, full of life, and capable of sustaining local communities.
“Paul Allen is committed to supporting innovative programs and research to address the most pressing perils facing our ocean today,” said Dune Ives
, co-manager of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “The Puget Sound Restoration Fund’s proposal has an approach and methodology that has the potential to make a significant impact, and we are excited to partner and collaborate with such well-respected organizations to develop tools and solutions to combat declining ocean health.”
Over the last 150 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 290 ppm to 395 ppm, and as a result, the ocean is absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and lowering surface water pH. Ocean acidification, together with changes in ocean temperature, salinity, and stratification, is impacting the global ocean ecosystem and potentially threatening marine food supplies. Paul G. Allen’s philanthropic efforts support organizations and individuals who take innovative approaches and leverage technology to address declining ocean health.
NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory will provide scientific oversight and specific expertise on all components related to assessing changes in the carbonate chemistry of seawater. NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center will provide both expertise and the significant infrastructure necessary to enable the Puget Sound Restoration Fund to effectively cultivate kelp sporophytes at the Manchester NOAA Laboratory.
The University of Washington, Applied Physics Laboratory will provide scientific oversight and specific expertise on all components related to assessing changes in the carbonate chemistry of seawater as it may be influenced by passage through dense assemblages of seaweeds.
Here is a detailed list of the project partners:
Above, members of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund joined Raechel Waters (second from right) from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation at the ocean acidification event at the Seattle Aquarium on April 2.
This project is one of the six finalists in the Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge, which was an open call to the scientific community to develop new, science-based approaches for reducing the environmental and societal impacts of ocean acidification.