Kelp: California's Coastal Forests

Kelp: California's Coastal Forests

Written by Jane Park

Using science to inform the restoration of California’s underwater forests

Kelp forests are underwater forests that support some of the world’s most productive fisheries and unique ecosystems.  Kelp forests occur throughout the world.  California’s kelp forests are particularly unique, as our “redwood forests of the sea” are among the tallest and most productive of the world: Northern California’s “bull kelp” grow an average of 4 in./day and can reach heights over 100 ft. 

The 2020 internship experience: studying purple urchins from my kitchen table

Kelp forests are integral to marine ecosystems along our coast because they provide habitat and food for numerous species. The Pacific Purple Sea Urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, will mow down the kelp forests if their populations are not controlled. In northern California, the sunflower sea star, Pycnopodia helianthoides, is a major predator of urchins. The sunflower sea star plays an essential role in maintaining the harmonious balance between the kelp forests and the urchins who walk among them.