Kelp

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Happy ‪#‎SeaweedSunday‬! Today, we’re taking a slow-motion dive through our Kelp Forest exhibit, the first of its kind in the world and home to over 30 species of local, homegrown algae. This exhibit’s filled with rich seawater from Monterey Bay, containing algal spores that settle and grow on the walls. For more elegant algae, check out our Kelp Forest webcam.

Kelp forests are true forests providing shelter and food for over 1,000 species of animals and plants that live within them. Giant kelp grow at depths below 100ft, sending their leaf like fronds to the surface to create a dense canopy. 

Kelp forests of the Channel Islands experience both warm water currents from the South and cold water currents from the North. This mixing of currents creates a highly productive system and a diversity of organisms that is only found over a much greater area of the California coast. 

Video

Happy Seaweed Sunday! Today, a different kind of kelp crab...

The pelagic red crabs that swept into the Monterey Bay and onto Pacific Grove beaches on Wednesday were quite the sight to see. But for however many were found stranded on the beach, many millions more were enjoying a scenic drift through the local habitats. Some made themselves at home in the nearshore kelp forests, decorating the kelp plants like crabby Christmas tree ornaments.

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The Importance of Kelp

Sea otters are a keystone species. They play an important role in the health and stability of near shore marine ecosystems. They eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that eat vast quantities of giant kelp. In the absence of sea otters, these grazing animals can annihilate kelp forests and consequently the wide diversity of animals that depend upon kelp habitat for survival. Providing habitat is one of many services kelp offers to the marine ecosystem. In this video Vancouver Island University marine biologist Jane Watson eloquently explains why kelp is so important.