Kelp Instructional Resources

kelp and fish

Kelp Forests support healthy fish populations


The following are some good online sources of information about kelp. By searching online, you may also find others. Also: at the end of the resources section is a glossary of terms used in the student activities.

What is Kelp?

Kelp Forests: A description of kelp forests, and geographic similarities and differences among species found in different locations. May be difficult to read for some students.

Kelp Forest Photographs: Beautiful photographs with some description of how species of kelp have adapted to survive.


Monterey Bay Aquarium:
Explore the aquarium and adjacent bay with selected Webcams, including one on kelp forests.

Kelp Forest

National Marine Sanctuaries: Ecosystem: Kelp Forests

University of Southern California Sea Grant Program: Online Kelp Activity

Forests of Kelp

Macrocystis pyrifera

Puget Sound Shorelines: Bull Kelp

Kelp Forests

Temperate Rainforests

The Land That Time Forgot: Temperate Rainforests

Exploring the Environment: Temperate Rainforest

Olympic Coast Alliance: Olympic Coast Marine Environment

Bibliography: Ocean Quest
Excellent bibliography of books from easy to difficult on ocean environments

Uses of Kelp (in Scotland)

Keep Watch: Commercial Giant Kelp Harvesting

Forests of the Sea by Tom Koppel

Fact Monster: The Uses of Algae

Marine Conservation Society: Marine World
(scroll down to threats)

Ocean Link, Brown Algae (Division Phaeophyta)


Kelp Forest Glossary

Abiotic Environment

The physical surroundings of an organism
Establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts
Air Bladders
Anything inflated or hollow; inflated hollow structure called a vesicle in an algae, often filled with air, to aid floating
Any of a large group of simple plants that contain chlorophyll; are not divisible into roots, stems and leaves; do not produce seeds; and include the seaweeds and related freshwater and land plants
A plant that completes its entire life cycle within the space of a year
Living or growing in or on the water
An expression of the number of different species occurring in a given area
The broad, flattened, leaf-like part of a seaweed thallus
The "roof" of the forest formed by the tops of the tallest kelp
Green-colored pigments that plants use to help make their own food
The general or typical atmospheric conditions for a place and/or period of time; conditions include rainfall, temperature, thunderstorms, lightening, freezes, etc.
The use of a resource that reduces the supply, such as harvesting kelp
A group of mainly aquatic animals including crabs, shrimps, and barnacles, with hard outer skeletons or shells and paired, jointed, limbs
Number of species in a particular community or habitat
Dynamic equilibrium
The condition of balance between varying, shifting and opposing forces which is characteristic of living processes
Relating to the interrelationships of organisms and their environment
A community of organisms, interacting with each other plus the environment, in which they live and react
A bay, influenced by the ocean tides, which has resulted in a mixture of salt water and fresh water
Referring to a cell with a nucleus and other internal structure
External activities
Activities outside a place, such as a national park, that may affect the biotic and abiotic elements within the place
Involved in removing or taking something out; the extractive kelp industry is one in which workers harvest kelp for processing into a variety of products
Animals that take water into their bodies and filter out water-borne debris and dissolved organic matter
Food web
The connections among everything organisms in a location are eaten by and eat
To wander or rove in search of food
The "leaf" of the kelp plant; fronds also release the plant's spores or "seeds"
The natural home of a plant or animal
A part of a kelp that clings to a flat surface
Intertidal zone
The region in an ocean that lies between the highest high tide level and the lowest low tide level; biota living in the intertidal zone are alternately covered and then uncovered by water
An animal with no backbone or spinal column
Any one of brown algae or seaweed, often growing in oceanic "forests"
Kelp forests
Underwater forests of tall, brown algae that grow in cool coastal waters
Someone who tries to persuade legislators to vote for bills that the lobbyists favor; lobbyists are usually paid by the group they represent
A genus name meaning "large bladder"
Living in the sea and not in fresh water
Marine snow
Organic materials floating in the water column near the surface that clump together and eventually sink to the bottom; these clumps of "snow" continuously drift down from the surface waters, delivering nutrients to the deep-water organisms
Mean low water
The average level of low water at a place over a 19-year period
Water resulting from the melting of snow or glacial ice; glacial meltwater often forms streams and carries rock material beyond active glaciers
Describing the form and structure of an organism or any of its parts
Ability to move at will
Mud flats
A wide area of fine sediment exposed at low tide, on the seaward side of a coast in sheltered waters
Organisms that are made up of more than one cell (compare with unicellular)
Substances which are required to support living plants and organisms
An op-ed is a piece of writing expressing an opinion. Such items are often found in a full newspaper page, containing articles by columnists, letters to the editor, and other information, rather than news or facts.
Organic Act (1916)
An act that, among other things, established the National Park Service
A plant that lives for more than 2 growing seasons
An unusual or remarkable fact or event
The process by which green plants, algae and some bacteria absorb light energy and use it to synthesize their food (organic compounds)
Suspended plants and animals that are incapable of locomotion and are carried by the currents
Living organism that makes its own food from inorganic substances and has neither the power of movement nor special organs, sensation or digestion
Pneumatocysts (pneu=air/cyst=ball)
Rounded organs like balloons that hold the kelp up to get more sunlight
Organisms that are not considered true animals, plants or fungi; includes algae of all kinds
A closed forest in areas of high precipitation with a large diversity of species forming a deep, densely interlacing canopy in which vines and ferns are often present
To return members of a species to their historical range; this strategy is sometimes used when a species has become locally extinct or if its population is threatened
Fine particles of rock, dirt or sand that have settled to the bottom of a body of water
Fine particles of soil floating in rivers, ponds, or lakes and settling to the bottom as sediment
Slender or elongated structure that supports a plant or fungus or a plant part or plant organ
The stem of a kelp plant; it is hollow and is full of air which helps to keep it upright in the water column; it is also flexible, which allows it to bend in the water's strong currents
Classification of forest based on height, age and species composition
The portion of a tidal-flat environment that lies below the level of mean low water for spring tides; normally, it is covered by water at all stages of the tide
Subtidal zone
Region in the ocean that lies below the range of tidal exposure; always covered by water
Relating to the gradual replacement of one plant community by another through natural processes over time
Of or relating to or inhabiting the land, as opposed to the sea or air
A plantlike organism not divided into leaves, stem, and root; mushrooms and lichen are examples of thalli
The regular rise and fall of the sea level under the gravitational pull of the moon; high tide, when the water reaches its highest level, occurs twice a day; low tide, when the water reaches its lowest level, occurs twice a day
Tidewater Glacier
Glaciers that flow into the sea
One-celled organisms
Urchin barrens
Large congregations of sea urchins that have eaten all the kelp
Vascular tissues
Tissues found in the bodies of vascular plants that transport water, nutrients, and carbohydrates
Venn diagram
A useful way of comparing sets; a typical Venn diagram uses overlapping circles to represent groups of items or ideas that share common properties


>>Activity #1
When is a plant not a plant?

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