This short video features Anne Salomon, a professor at Simon Fraser University, talking about the kelp forests of coastal British Columbia.

By Panos Grames, Communications Specialist

What's happening off the coasts of British Columbia during the month of April? Kelp forests are providing shelter and habitat for billions of creatures, some starting life, others just ending.

Herring laid their eggs on the kelp a few weeks back, and now untold numbers of tiny herring are milling about under the kelp forest canopy, eating tiny plankton, and being eaten themselves. Along with the herring and plankton are seals, sea lions, nudibranches, sea snails, wolf eels, jellyfish, rockfish and a multitude of other species.

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Like a forest of trees, a kelp forest provides food, shelter and habitat for an interdependent web of creatures, great and small.

Kelp in British Columbia comes in different shapes and sizes. Bull kelp, or Nereocystis, is a fast-growing annual (it dies every year) known for the large bulb on the end of its "tail". Anyone who has walked along a Pacific Coast beach will have seen one of these long whip-like tails.

The kelp's bulb contains carbon monoxide, helping it float near the surface and allowing its blades to collect sunlight. And how. It's so efficient at photosynthesis that it is one of the fastest-growing organisms on the planet, growing by up to 60 centimetres per day during mid-summer.

Another important species for British Columbia's North Pacific waters is giant kelp, or Macrocystis. Anchored to the seafloor by roots, aptly called a holdfast, giant kelp is a perennial that can live for up to 10 years. A single giant kelp can grow up to 60 metres long—30 metres of holdfast, and 30 metres of frond.

We're looking for stories from coastal British Columbia, about what happens underwater, and people's relationship to it. If you have something to share, please write to us at

April 27, 2012

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Apr 27, 2012
1:11 PM

When Paul Spong and Helena Symonds were live streaming the underwater cameras from Orca-Live, I (and many others!) used to spend hours — literally — watching the underwater kelp world and listening to orcas (and boats :( ) Some were lucky enough to see the orcas underwater on occasion (OrcaLab provided hours of surface video too). I was thrilled to watch an octopus and the odd seal. Then of course there were the sea stars who would cross the cameras, the sea cucumbers and of course "Rocky" the fish…

Apr 27, 2012
1:38 PM

This is really cool!

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