Point Lobos: Kelp Forest

Images (C) 2016, California State Parks

Looking out at the ocean from the rocky headlands of Point Lobos, visitors usually notice the sometimes-thick collection of brownish seaweed. This is our kelp forest, most of which is giant kelp. It grows rapidly in up to 100 feet of depth, as it is connected to the bottom. It thrives best when attached to a rocky bottom. In summer the canopy is thick, but the kelp is not strong enough to stand up to strong winter wave surges, and the canopy becomes sparser.

Kelp forests are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth. Smaller areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds.

The dense canopy of the kelp forest shelters millions of marine organisms. It is the place to look for sea otters.  But look carefully, as the otters blend in with the kelp when they sleep, and they wrap their bodies in the kelp to assure they won’t float away while sleeping.