macrocystis

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Kelp forest are beautiful underwater wonders. They are responsible for some of the most important marine habitats, home to an unique array of ocean creatures. They occur in nutrient rich waters throughout the world occupying a range of water depths, restricted to colder temperatures under 20ºC. 

The growth rate of kelp is some of the most remarkable in the plant kingdom. The Macrocystis being the most impressive growing up to 30cm per day.

Sketch WIP - this fellow is based of macrocystis, a lovely species of giant kelp. I’d like to do him up in varying shades of gold, dark sepia with hints of green and white. There are so many species of kelp, I will probably end up creating a sub-species of kelp whitewater dragons.

I’ve decided to name this one Demetrius.

Magical Uses of Seaweeds and Kelps

First, a little info. Seaweeds and kelps are not actually plants: they are algae! Despite their appearance, they are all algae. There are very few true underwater plants, one of them being eelgrass, which will also be covered here for simplicity’s sake. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list by any means, as there are hundreds of seaweed and kelp species in the Puget Sound alone. This is merely a short compilation of the species I see most often.

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Macrocystis pyrifera is in the family Laminariaceae. Commonly known as giant kelp, it is found along the coasts of the Pacific Northwest, South America, and Australasia. It is a common misconception that giant kelp is a species of plant. In fact, it is a brown algae, very distantly related to plants and even green algae. However, giant kelp and other brown algae still have the capacity to photosynthesize due to an evolutionary event independent from rise of photosynthesis in plants. Giant kelp is the largest species of brown algae, and is even considered one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet. Giant kelp can form dense populations underwater known as kelp forests, which harbor hundreds of different species of aquatic life. Under the right conditions, giant kelp can grow up to 2 feet a day, reaching an ultimate height of over 150 feet tall.

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Sand Scribblings / Carl Sandburg / in Smoke and Steel, 1922

THE WIND stops, the wind begins.
The wind says stop, begin.
 
A sea shovel scrapes the sand floor.
The shovel changes, the floor changes.
 
The sandpipers, maybe they know.        
Maybe a three-pointed foot can tell.
Maybe the fog moon they fly to, guesses.
 
The sandpipers cheep “Here” and get away.
Five of them fly and keep together flying.
 
Night hair of some sea woman        
Curls on the sand when the sea leaves
The salt tide without a good-by.
 
Boxes on the beach are empty.
Shake ’em and the nails loosen.
They have been somewhere.