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Wisdom Wednesday | Giant Kelp

Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday 01/06/2021

Image of Giant Kelp by Danny Lee
Photo by Danny Lee

Giant kelp is not considered a plant because it does not have roots. Instead, it obtains all of the necessary nutrients directly from the water and is attached to the rocky bottom by a structure known as a holdfast. Giant kelp grow to 100 feet (30 m) on average but can reach lengths of 175 feet (53 m) in ideal conditions. This species is one of the fastest growing species in the world, growing at an average rate of 11 inches (28 cm) a day but can grow 24 inches (61 cm) a day in ideal conditions. Once and individual giant kelp reaches the sea surface, it continues to grow horizontally, floating in large mats that shade the water column and sea floor below. In order to remain upright, each giant kelp blade (leaf) includes a gas-filled pod that floats. Sea otters wrap themselves in giant kelp to keep from floating away while sleeping. Humans have been known to harvest giant kelp and use them in food dishes and medical purposes due to their high potassium and iodine content.

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