Monitoring the health of bull kelp

Nereocystis luetkeana (bull kelp) is a species of floating kelp that pulls carbon out of our atmosphere every day while providing nutrients and essential habitat for rockfish, salmon, herring and other wildlife including over 20 additional kelp species under the canopy provided by the floating kelp. Whidbey Island currently has abundant areas of floating kelp, however much of Puget Sound does not, having lost many historic kelp areas as human activity has dramatically increased since the early 1900s (over-harvesting, sedimentation from construction, pollution).


Aerial Whidbey provided this video to support the Northwest Straits Commission's 2016 Kelp Workshop where volunteers from across the seven Marine Resource Committees (MRCs) of northwest Washington State met to discuss approaches to measuring change in the abundance of floating kelp. Aerial Whidbey continues to test methods and tools for long-term monitoring of floating kelp.


In addition, Aerial Whidbey offers aerial media to support the public agencies, nonprofit organizations and individuals seeking to protect, restore and enhance the natural environment of Island County, Puget Sound and beyond.

  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas

  • Nereocystis luetkeana (bull kelp) and other areas with floating kelp

  • Diked watershed habitats

  • Floodplain areas

Additional information can be found through:

  • Washington State Department of Ecology

  • Northwest Straits Commission

  • Northwest Straits Foundation

  • Marine Resources Committees

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Priority Habitats

  • Periodic Status Review for the Bald Eagle (October 2016)

Summary of exploring using drones with near-infrared cameras to measure kelp growth

RGB kelp image
NIR image (2)
Bull kelp
NIR kelp image 1