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Kelp Forests

We’re all familiar with how forests work on land. Large trees shelter smaller ones, which in turn shelter a variety of shrubs, bushes, grasses and fungi. Combined, this structured arrangement provides food and shelter to numerous animals – kind of like a modern city with residents each finding their own place to live, feed and reproduce. In the oceans, kelp forests serve an identical purpose. These vast underwater forests teem with life, from tiny invertebrates to creatures as large as Gray Whales. While some of these animals, like rock fish, live out their lives in the forest while others, like sharks, may be transitory, entering only to feed or find temporary shelter.

  • Broken Chain: Sea Otters and Kelp Forests

    Category: General Article

    In nature, nothing lives in isolation. When the last sea otter was killed in Oregon in the early twentieth century, it caused environmental repercussions we're still dealing with today.

  • Orca Reporting

    Category: General Article

    Scientists are trying to learn more about Orcas who reside in Oregon waters. Learn how you can help spot these coastal predators and aid with the research.

  • Oregon Otters

    Category: Fun Fact

    Sea otters have been extinct in Oregon for over 100 years – but there's still one large raft of these threatened marine mammals you can see up close.

Slideshow: Kelp Forests

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    The round bladders shown here (sometimes call floats) help hold the kelp upright in the water. (NOAA Photo)

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    Kelp forests provide critical habitat for all kinds of marine life, including acting as a nursery for some fish. (NOAA Photo)

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    A close up of Feather Boa Kelp, a species found from Alaska to Baja California. (NOAA Photo)

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    Giant Kelp can grow to giant proportions – up to 148 feet (45 m) and adding two feet per day in new growth. (NOAA Photo)

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    The Kelp Greenling is a common sport fish found in Oregon kelp forests. (NOAA Photo)

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    California Sea Lions frolic in the kelp forest, an ecosystem which provides them both with food and cover from predators. (NOAA Photo)

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    Kelp forests are arranged similarly to terrestrial forests, with both an overstory and understory. (NOAA Photo)