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Feather Boa Kelp

Egregia menziesii

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This kelp species can often be encountered washed up on the west coast beaches of North America. It is brown to dark olive green, and as its names suggests, it produces up to twenty-five long fronds covered in small blades which give it a feathery appearance. There are spherical floats located at irregular intervals along the stem (stipe) and a large holdfast at the bottom which secures the plant to rocky ares of the ocean floor. This kelp grows to a maximum length of 33 feet (10 m).

Containing more nitrogen and phosphate than even Giant Kelp, Feather Boa Kelp is a natural and potent fertilizer. In the past, it was collected off the beaches by coastal farmers to be used as fertilizer for their crops. Kelp is also a valuable source of Alginic acid, which is used in the production of detergents, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food products. Although some species of kelp are still commercially harvested, removing it from the beaches is prohibited due to the important role it plays a food source to a variety of coastal animals.

Distribution

Feather Boa Kelp can be found in rocky areas, intertidal and subtidal zones along the Pacific coast of North America. It is common from Alaska to Baja California.

Conservation Status

Common.