Creature Feature: Bull Kelp

Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), or Paamoh in the Yurok language, is a seaweed most commonly found in turbulent coastal waters of the Pacific Coast of North America. It anchors itself to rocks with a root-like “holdfast”.
 
Bull kelp grows quickly, reaching maturity within a year, and an individual may grow up to 118 feet. It is edible: it can be dried, roasted, or ground into flour/flakes. That said, be careful. Kelp from highly populated areas may contain undesirable metals and washed up kelp may be rotting.
 
Kelp forests help protect coastlines from extreme wave action, but they are in danger from human interference. Conservation of sea otters is essential for the health of California’s kelp forests, as sea otters prey on kelp-consuming urchins.
 
Sources: Edible Seaweed of the Pacific Northwest; Bull Kelp–Monterey Bay Aquarium; Nereocystis–wikipedia
Photos: NOAA Fisheries and Andrew Reding on Flickr