October 1, 2016.
Kellet’s whelk, Kelletia kelletii, were observed at sample sites throughout their range from Baja California, Mexico, to Monterey, CA to determine patterns of population density. Sample sites in each region were either located within California marine protected areas where take of the Kellet’s whelk in prohibited, or in non-protected areas where the whelks can be fished both commercially and recreationally. Kellet’s whelk population density was compared between all MPA and non-MPA sample sites. These mean densities were also found for sites in Santa Barbara and San Diego near active fishing ports and compared to data from the same sites collected in 2004. Whelk density was significantly greater in MPAs than in non-MPA sample sites. Moreover, the comparison of MPA and non-MPA sites near fishing ports between 2004 and 2016 data showed non-significant changes in density over the 12 years, but there were noticeable trends in decreasing density in the fished areas while the density in the MPAs remained fairly constant. Our results suggest that fishing pressure has caused a decreased density of Kellet’s whelk in fished areas, while these effects have been mitigated in protected areas. Significant decreases in density of the Kellet’s whelk could alter kelp forest population dynamics, and although the overall population is currently stable, consumers must be aware of overfishing.
Marine Biology | Population Biology
Dr. Crow White
California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly SLO)
This project was supported by a grant to the California State University STEM Teacher Researcher (STAR) Program from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.