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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bull Kelp is abundant off the Mendonoma Coast

Bull Kelp, Nereocystis leutkeana, grows as forests in the Pacific Ocean off the Mendocino and Sonoma Coast. Right now the waters close to shore are showing healthy forests. Bull Kelp is an annual and its growth rate is phenomenal. Winter storms will rip the holdfasts from the ocean floor and waves will fling many onto beaches. Once Rick and I went to Bowling Ball Beach after a big storm. There in the mounds of kelp were many beautiful abalone shells - a gift from Mother Nature!

Kelp needs nutrient rich waters to grow. The upwelling that occurs here is necessary for the Kelp's growth. Many creatures depend on this plant. Small fish hide in the kelp from bigger ones. Seabirds have been seen to rest on the surface mats. It's believed CA Sea Lions and Harbor Seals feed on it. And it's known that Sea Urchins feed on it.

Tomorrow I will show you a cute photo of Harbor Seals draped in kelp and you will read about what is it like to dive amongst kelp.

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