You are here

Kelp forests

Seaweed forests are made up of a special group of large brown algae called kelps. These large plants attach themselves to solid structures such as rock and extend their blades into the waters reaching towards the sunlight.

These large algae forests create habitat for smaller algae and a wealth of animals that either live attached to the rocks beneath the kelps, on the kelps themselves or in the sheltered waters between individual plants.

In the same way that trees provide shelter and food for many different species, kelp forests are the forests of the sea.

The kelp forest has a dense canopy of blades blocking out light and shading the surface of the rock. This provides an ideal environment for smaller algae and non-moving animals.

Kelp species populating these forests include Giant Kelp (Macrocystis angustifolia) and Bull Kelp (Durvillea potatorum). Animals that make their home in kelp forests are Eastern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardii), Black Lipped Abalone (Haliotis rubra) and Old Wife (Enoplosus armatus) .

Key Threats

  • Fishing or removal of animals and plants
  • Marine pests as the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis) or the Japanese Kelp (Undaria pinnatifida)which compete for food or space such
  • Anchor damage
  • Oil and chemical pollution
  • Climate change effects including sea level rise, warming sea surface temperatures, and increasing ocean acidity
  • Large numbers of over-abundant grazers such as native sea urchins

Where to see kelp forests

Related links