Maycira Costa: Historical Kelp Forest Map

Using an innovative method involving British admiralty charts from 1858 to 1956, UVic geographer Maycira Costa and her research team, in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) (Science and Coastal Environmental Baseline Program) and the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS), have created the first historical digital map of BC’s coastal kelp forests to further investigate the loss of kelp.

The new reference map will help address questions related to the habitats of salmon, herring, and many other species that rely on kelp for protection and food. Costa, with support from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, is comparing the historical maps to satellite images of coastal areas to understand how these habitats have changed and why.

Read more: New digital map of kelp forests

British chart showing kelp beds

An example of a British chart from the 1850s showing the drawing of kelp blades to indicate kelp beds. Credit: Image provided courtesy of Maycira Costa.