Did You Know? Facts About Kelp

Did You Know? Facts About Kelp

Nov 05
Did You Know? Facts About Kelp

By Brent Durand

Kelp.  It’s often where you aim to start a California dive.  It’s also something you swim around when on a long surface kick.  It looks magical in photos and every once in a while you get stuck in it.  Most importantly, it’s a fundamental part of our marine ecosystem here in California.

Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is found along the west coast of North America, as well as in several locations around the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s an algae that can grow up to 2 feet per day in ideal conditions, and reach a total length of 200 feet!  This rapid growth allows kelp fronds to grow from the bottom and create a living canopy on the ocean surface.  Below the canopy is a world of life we could talk about for days.

Kelp with Sun in backgroundKelp requires sunlight to carry out photosynthesis, but also grows best in nutrient-rich water less than 70°F.  During the summer in SoCal the water warms up and is less rich with nutrients so kelp beds will often deteriorate until winter/spring when the cold water is back.

Kelp is also a great indicator of ocean conditions.  If the kelp is standing straight up there’s probably no current, but if the kelp is at a strong diagonal be sure to plan your dive accordingly.  Because kelp beds attract so much marine life they’re sure to be great dive spots.  Lastly, if you keep an eye on the kelp at your local beach, you’ll begin to notice that the size of the canopy on the surface is a good indication of the tide.

Sources:  www.starthrower.org

Brent Durand is an avid California beach diver and ocean-inspired photographer.

Kelp with sun in the background