Inch in a Pinch"Hi! Glad you could make it! Wanted you to have a look at this place while we're hanging around close to shore. Kelp forests are close to shore just like Coral Reefs, but they need much colder water temperatures. Our guide in this habitat area will be Gutsy Garibaldi. She's one of the bravest fish I know! I'll let her explain. Yoohoo! Gutsy, we're ready for your tour of the Kelp Forest."
Gutsy Garibaldi
"Hi, everybody! It takes a lot of guts Gutsy Garibaldi 
to live in the kelp forest these days! There's all kinds of dangerous activities going on around here! I'll tell you about them later. For now, I want you to learn about this 'forest beneath the waves'."

Where Do We Find Kelp Forests?
Kelp grows in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. In the Southern hemisphere they occur in Argentina, through the Straits of Magellan to Chile, off South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and many sub-Antarctic islands. In the Northern Hemisphere they occur from central Baja California to Sitka, Alaska. But the kelp forests are the most developed off of the California coast, from San Diego to Santa Cruz. Kelp
Crab in Kelp

What Do We Know About Kelp Forests?
Bullet Kelp forests occur in cold, nutrient-rich water and are among the most beautiful and biologically productive habitats in the marine environment. A dependence upon light for photosynthesis restricts them to clear shallow water and they are rarely much deeper than 20 to 80 feet.

Bullet Giant kelp is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. When conditions are good, kelp can grow two feet per day! Giant kelp prefers water temperature in the 50-65 degree (F) range. A giant kelp plant can live up to six years. The plant is continuously pushing up new fronds to the surface, while the older fronds break off. Reaching lengths of more than 100 feet, it is the largest marine algae.
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Gas Bladders
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Stipes Holdfast

Bullet The giant kelp plant has long, sinuous stipes-stems that are supported by gas-filled bladders (these keep the kelp afloat) located at the base of each leaflike blade. The plant is anchored to rocky bottoms by its holdfast, a rootlike mass of tangled haptera.

Bullet Much like tree forests on land, kelp forests feature distinct horizontal layers: a sunny canopy (top layer), a dimly lit middle, and a dark forest bottom.

Bullet When Macrocystis fronds reach the surface of the ocean they continue growing horizontally and form a canopy. In the fall and winter, the canopy can become extremely thick and extensive, creating considerable shade beneath it.

Bullet Giant kelp is very flexible, and can survive all but the most violent storms and swells. Kelp that has been ripped off it's moorings will sometime gather into what is known as drift kelp. This kelp floats and drifts with the currents. This living kelp can, under the right conditions, re-anchor itself in a new area.
Drift Kelp
Copyright Phillip Colla,
all rights reserved worldwide

Bullet Kelp can also reproduce by way of spores. A single plant can produce trillions of spores each year.

"Millions of plants and animals liveGutsy Garibaldi
in the kelp forest. There is everything from whales, that go into the kelp forest to hide, to the playful Sea Otter, that wraps itself in kelp so it won't float away while it sleeps! Now we're gonna' see some more of the animals and plants that make up the world of the kelp forest! Gee, I love this place!! Click the buttons below."

Animal Page LinkPlant Page Link

"Isn't it amazing how many different Gutsy Garibaldi 
plants and animals call the kelp forest 'home'? Well, it's time you learned why my name is 'Gutsy'. Kelp forests are dangerous places to live these days. Everybody thinks I'm really gutsy to stay in spite of the dangers. I don't think I'm very brave. I just can't live anywhere else. Used to be everything was really quiet here. Now the Kelp forest habitat area could be in real trouble! Read on and you'll find out why." 

What are the Threats to the Kelp Forests?
Algin--a substance extracted from kelp--is an emulsifier added to ice cream, salad dressing, toothpaste, cosmetics and hundreds of other products. The demand for kelp is ever increasing!

There is concern with both the "vagueness" of commercial kelp harvesting regulations and the amount of kelp harvesting. Some countries do not have any regulations at all. The United States does have regulations. These regulations include the following stipulations:
  • anyone may harvest kelp as long as they adhere to harvesting regulations
  • kelp must be harvested by cutting
  • it cannot be cut more than four feet below the surface of the water
  • harvesters must remove all of the kelp they cut; none can be allowed to escape
There is no regulation of how much of the canopy of open beds can be taken, except in the Carmel Bay preserve, where half of the canopy can be harvested every four months. It is written into the leases of some beds that no more than 50% of a bed's canopy may be harvested at any one time. However, half of whatever is left can be harvested the next day - and this can continue until the canopy is virtually gone. Regulations are loosely enforced by the Department of Fish and Game.

Bullet Freshwater runoff, which carries with it all the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used on land to control pests and increase crop harvest levels is a major threat to the Kelp forest. Pollution of the ocean waters upsets the delicate balance of the kelp forest. Biodiversity is lost when species that inhabit the kelp forest die from the toxic chemicals in the water. As more and more biodiversity is lost, this fragile habitat area could eventually collapse and be lost forever!
Up ArrowGutzy Garibaldi
"This is why I wear the mask!!"

Bullet Kelp forests occur in COLD, nutrient-rich water. Global warming is gradually increasing the temperature of our oceans. If kelp forests only occur in COLD water, where the temperature stays at between 50-65 degree (F), increases in this temperature will adversely affect the kelp forest, endangering its existence! Human activities are major contributors to global warming. Certain human activities are causing some greenhouse gases (heat-trapping gases), such as carbon dioxide, to build up in the atmosphere. Whenever we burn fossil fuels (gasoline, oil, coal or natural gas), more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Forest destruction and agriculture also release greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases cause an increase in the earth's temperature.
"See what I mean about dangerousGutsy Garibaldi 
things happening in the Kelp forest? It's really scary, especially for all of us who live here! You can help, you know! Really, there are a lot of things you can do even if you don't live near the ocean. Some of the ways you can help are listed below. I sure hope you'll not only read them, but you'll actually start doing them! That's what's important - that YOU DO THEM!  

Things You Can Do To Help
Bullet Better regulations regarding the harvesting of kelp need to be enacted and once enacted, they need to be strictly enforced. In order to make sure the laws governments enact are in the best interest of the environment and that the laws are strictly enforced, government officials must be "pro environment". It is our responsibility to put into office these "pro environment" people. We must make it our business to know what each candidate's position is on environmental issues. Once we know this, we must make our voices heard by voting. Do not stand by silently. GET INVOLVED!

Bullet Make yourself aware of what chemicals you are using in your every day life. Find out if they are dangerous or harmful to the environment. Whenever possible, do not use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that can be harmful to the environment. Read the label!! If you are unsure, ask someone. Call your local health department or forester.

Bullet If you must use toxic chemicals always dispose of them in a safe manner. Leave the portion that you want to throw away in its original container with the lid tightly in place. Call your local health department to see if there is a special pick-up day for toxic chemical waste (some communities have several of these each year). If your community does not have a special day or if you want to get rid of the chemicals before the next scheduled special day, put the containers in a sturdy box and take them to your local health department.




Bullet There are a number of ways you can help reduce global warming. Below are a few to get you started and a link to more suggestions and information about global warming.
-- The next time you buy a car, get one that gets good gas mileage. Cars and trucks that get more miles per gallon can help reduce the risk of global warming.

-- We burn a lot of fossil fuel to heat our homes. Consider using solar power to heat and light your home. Solar cells supply electricity and solar panels supply heat without emitting any greenhouse gases or other pollution.

-- Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Use the energy-saving setting to dry the dishes. Or better yet, don't use heat when drying. Dry them yourself with a cloth towel.

-- Wash clothes in warm or cold water, not hot. This uses less natural gas (a fossil fuel).

-- Clean or replace air filters on furnaces, humidifiers, and air conditioners as recommended. Cleaning a dirty air conditioner filter can save 5% of the energy used.

-- Buy energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs for your most-used lights.

More information about Global Warming
More Information Link
"Well, that's it. Pretty neatGutsy Garibaldi 
place, huh? Please, take some time to try to put into practice the things you can do to help save the Kelp forest. Get together with the other members of your family and work on this together. Thanks for taking the time to learn about my home. Come back again! There's lots more stuff to see and learn! Oh, there's a picture for you to color if you'd like."

"Was that some great stuff or what?Inch in a Pinch Caterpillar 
I was looking at the suggestions for what we can do to help Gutsy, her friends and their home. I know I have some light bulbs around my place that could be replaced with flourescent ones. Since we're finished with our adventure for this month, I think I'll get the flourescent bulbs and start saving energy right away. Why don't you take a look around your house and see if you can't do the same thing? I can hardly wait to see where we're going next time! Hope I'll see you there!" 

To Learn More About the Kelp Forest, Visit: 
Kelp Forest
Monterey Bay Aquarium Kelp Cam
Macrocystis pyrifera

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