Amazing Kelp Forests 

Marine life swims through a kelp forest in Channel Islands National Park off the coast of southern California.

Kelp is a type of seaweed. It looks like tall grass, but it is not a plant. Kelp does not have roots. It uses a structure called a holdfast to grip the ocean floor. Kelp takes in the nutrients it needs for survival from the water. It uses sunlight to make its food. Kelp grows in thick patches known as kelp forests.  

Kelp forests are an important ocean habitat. Many kinds of marine life depend on kelp to survive. Some sea life such as fish and urchins eat kelp. Sharks hunt the fish that live in kelp forests. Fish use the kelp for protection from predators.  

Kelp forests are also important to humans. They are a popular destination for divers who want to see a variety of marine life. Kelp is also harvested [to take and gather crops for use] and used in many everyday products. Did you know kelp is used to make pudding, toothpaste, and shampoo?  

Marine life and humans depend on kelp. Some kelp forests are disappearing. Over-fishing, pollution, and invasive species [plants or animals that are brought into a new area and cause harm] harm kelp populations. Scientists are working to better understand and protect these vital habitats.  

What Can You Do? One way to protect kelp forests is to educate others about their importance. Tell someone what you learned about kelp. 

Photo Credit: Yiming Chen/Getty Images