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Kelp Forests: About

Kelp Forests

What is a Kelp Forest?

Kelp forests can be seen along much of the west coast of North America. Kelp are large brown algae that live in cool, relatively shallow waters close to the shore. They grow in dense groupings much like a forest on land. These underwater towers of kelp provide food and shelter for thousands of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammal species.

Kelp forests harbor a greater variety and higher diversity of plants and animals than almost any other ocean community. Many organisms use the thick blades as a safe shelter for their young from predators or even rough storms. 

Among the many mammals and birds that use kelp forests for protection or feeding are seals, sea lions, whales, sea otters, gulls, terns, snowy egrets, great blue herons, cormorants, and shore birds. Continue reading from NOAA

Where are Kelp Forests Found?

Kelp forests are underwater ecosystems fashioned through the dense growth of different species of marine macroalgae. These terrestrial rainforests are spread along temperate coastlines across the world where the waters are shallow and relatively clean to enable the penetration of sunlight for them to generate food and energy. 

Kelp forests are usually found in arctic and temperate waters across the world. The major species of Laminaria occur in the Atlantic Ocean and the coastlines of China and Japan. The Ecklonia species is found on the coast of New Zealand, Australia, and Africa, while Macrocystis grow in the Pacific Ocean, Southern Ocean archipelagos, and parts of Australia. Continue reading from World Atlas

Importance to the Ecosystem

Ocean fans tend to recognize the amazing value of kelp forests for our marine ecosystems. Whether appreciated while diving or snorkeling, or at an aquarium, the swaying amber fronds of a healthy kelp forest are a sure sign of abundant sea creatures. Kelp forests are the archor of nearshore ocean wildlife communities across the U.S. West Coast and northeast, sustaining marine biodiversity by providing shelter, habitat, and even food for an array of fish and invertebrates. The many varieties of kelp--a marine algae rather than a true plant--expand the habitat available for kelp forest residents by reaching upwards from the seafloor. Kelp species range from low-lying "bottom kelp" types or much taller species like California's giant kelp, which can reach the surface from 80-foot depths or more...

What's less known are the risks kelp forests face from a changing ocean and the role they play as a bulwark, against a host of ocean problems, including climate change. Kelp forests are key assets in the effort to control the effects of climate change and are likewise quite susceptible to these effects if not given a helping hand. Continue reading from Ocean Conservancy


Learn More About Marine Ecosystems: From the Collection

Link to Deep blue home : an intimate ecology of our wild ocean by Julia Whitty in the catalog
Link to The Ocean of Life by Callum Roberts in the catalog
Link to Waters of the world : the story of the scientists who unraveled the mysteries of our oceans, atmosphere, and ice sheets and made the planet whole by Sarah Dry in the catalog
Link to The sea trilogy : Under the sea-wind ; The sea around us ; The edge of the sea by Rachel Carson in the catalog
Link to Ocean : the definitive visual guide by the American Museum of Natural History in the catalog
Link to Ocean anatomy : the curious parts & pieces of the world under the sea by Julia Rothman in the catalog
Link to Systems Biology of Marine Ecosystems by Anjanette S. Tadena in Freading
America's marine sanctuaries: a photographic exploration by US National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in the catalog
Link to The brilliant abyss : exploring the majestic hidden life of the deep ocean and the looming threat that imperils it by Helen Scales in the catalog
Link to Vanishing sands : losing beaches to mining by Orrin H. Pilkey in the catalog
Link to The Atlas of Disappearing Places: Our Coasts and Oceans in the Climate Crisis by Christina Conklin in the catalog
Link to Below the Edge of Darkness by Edith Widder PhD in the catalog

Link to Marine Ecosystems Resource Guide Series Homepage