Kelp Forests - A Description

photo of fish in a kelp forest

Kelp forests grow predominantly on the Pacific Coast, from Alaska and Canada to the waters of Baja California. Tiered like a terrestrial rainforest with a canopy and several layers below, the kelp forests of the eastern Pacific coast are both beautiful and a necessity for a healthy ecosystem.

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 include seals, sea lions, whales, sea otters, gulls, terns, snowy egrets, great blue herons, cormorants, and shore birds.