Kelp Forest Ecosystems
Resource Collection

Kelp forests are an important ecosystem that support a variety of species and grow predominantly along the Eastern Pacific Coast, from Alaska and Canada to the waters of Baja, California. Kelp forests can be found in four of our national marine sanctuaries along the West Coast of the United States. This collection has compiled wide-ranging resources from lesson plans, webinars, web stories, virtual reality videos, and more. You are invited to learn more about the importance of Kelp Forest Ecosystems, NOAA’s efforts to manage and conserve them, the species that call these forests home, and the threats kelp face.

sheephead swimming in a kelp forest


Kelp are large brown algae that live in cool, relatively shallow waters close to the shore. There are about 30 different species of kelp worldwide. They grow in dense groupings much like a forest on land, and provide food, shelter, and protection for all kinds of marine life, including seals, sea lions, sea otters, invertebrates, fish, whales, birds, and more. Kelp forests also provide a variety of ecosystem services to humans and serve as habitat for a number of commercially important fishery species such as kelp bass and black rockfish. Kelp can contribute greatly to climate resiliency.

kelp forest

Lesson Plans & Activities

This collection of lesson plans and activities for students includes engaging materials to allow anyone to gain a better understanding of Kelp Forest Ecosystems, their importance, the animals that call them home, and the dangers they face.

kelp forest

Kelp Forest Elementary Collection

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuary System, the best of the best educational materials for an elementary school audience have been compiled in collaboration with the National Park Trust. This collection focuses on kelp forests.

sea otter swimming on it's back holding kelp


The National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series is an important resource in spreading general information, research findings, and empowering all audiences to protect marine resources. Enjoy this assortment of kelp forest oriented recorded webinars that offer a unique perspective from scientists, divers, researchers, and others on the topic.

kelp swaying in the waves


NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has informative videos on a variety of topics, including kelp forests. Use this collection of video resources to dive deeper into Kelp Forest Ecosystems, restoration programs, kelp farming, and more!

sea lion swimming in a kelp forest

Virtual Reality

Located off the coast of Southern California, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a biological hotspot. Grab your goggles (or VR headset) and swim along with a playful sea lion as it takes you on a tour through the sanctuary’s kelp forests and rocky outcrops.

sea anemone in a kelp forest

Species of the Kelp Forest

Want to learn about what species call kelp forests home? Explore this range of resources about sea otters, fish, seals, and more to learn about their role in these ecosystems and how they utilize kelp forests.

giant kelp


This collection of posters highlight which national marine sanctuaries kelp forest inhabit and other newly released resources in light of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' 50th Anniversary.

fish swimming through a kelp forest

Web Stories

National marine sanctuaries are home to diverse Kelp Forest Ecosystems that are studied by scientists and researchers, viewed by divers and snorkelers, and supported by important species. Read about the variety of projects, recovery efforts, and other topics through sanctuary web stories and articles.

a diver looking at a sea star

Additional Materials

Looking for more information on kelp forests? Look no further! This section provides additional resources from surveys, restoration, and issues kelp face.