Kelp

photo by NOAA CC BY

Kelp is a large seaweed growing in underwater forests. Balls of spaghetti-like strands hold the seaweed to the rocky sea bottom. Leaf-like structures called blades are attached to the stem, and gas-filled bladders keep kelp blades close to the surface.

Kelp often grows in dense kelp forests that are home to over 800 marine animals and thousands of invertebrates. The greatest diversity of kelp forests are found from southern California to Alaska, but they are a common feature of all shallow oceans.

Giant Kelp is the most common species of Kelp in southern California with blades (leaves) up to 200 ft long. The blades/leaves of Bull Kelp (northern California to Alaska) are attached to a gas-filled ball that floats on the surface of the water.

Did you know? Kelp grows very quickly, forming methane when it rots, and large kelp farms have been suggested as a source of biofuel for renewable energy.