In the natural environment, Kelp serves as a home to a diversified species of aquatic habitat. Kelps are the largest and known to be the fastest growing habitat which forms an outline of Kelp forest that attracts many species not only plants but also marine animal species because these habitats provide an abundance of food for animals, especially those either near the ocean floor or along the shoreline.
The question here is what is Kelp forest? Do these forests have the same surviving habitat for aquatic life as the land forest provides? You must be curious to know. Right! Then without wasting time, let’s take a deep dive with us in the Kelp forest.
What Is Kelp Forest?
Kelps under the water look like large trees but these are not real trees instead they are algae, especially Brown algae that can grow to a maximum length of 2 to 30 meters or may be above that. The Kelp Forest is a region where kelp grows extensively forming a dense forest. The Kelp forest covers a major part of the world’s coastlines and contributes 0.9 % of global productivity.
What Animals Live In Kelp Forests?
The Kelps forest provides a survival habitat not only for aquatic habitats but for marine animals as well. Some of the animals living in the Kelp forest are:
1: Brown Turban Snail
The Brown turban snail is a small invertebrate that lives in a Kelp forest and has a maximum size of 1 inch or 25 mm. they have a conical shell – looks like a turban. The Kelp forest provides them with a wide range of brown algae, diatoms, or bryozoans, to feed on.
2: California Sheep-Head
The California sheep-head belongs to a group of fishes that can have a length of 3 feet or 91 cm maximum or weigh approximately 36 pounds or 16.3 kg. They bear canine teeth which allow them to feed on shelled animals such as mollusks, sea urchins, crabs, or lobsters.
3: Decorator Crab
The name sounds unique. Isn’t it? The name indicates that they can camouflage with other creatures such as sponges, algae, bryozoans, or sea anemones to protect themselves from danger. A decorator crab is an invertebrate that can reach a maximum size of 5 inches or 12.7 cm. They feed on sponges, bryozoans, algae, or small crustaceans.
4: Giant Kelpfish
As their name indicates that they are the most common type of fish that live in the kelp forest. They have the remarkable coloration of green, red, or brown with a silvery pattern on the skin which helps them to blend with the environment. They are about 2 feet or 61 cm long and they feed on fishes, small crustaceans, or shelled mollusks.
5: Horn Shark
Horn sharks the member of cartilaginous fishes thrive in the kelp forest. They have sleeker bodies that help them to blend with the floor their pectoral fins allow them to crawl among the rocky floor. They include crustaceans, small fishes, sea urchins, or mollusks in their diet and can reach up to 4 feet or 1.2 meters in length.
6: Red Octopus
They are red usually but can camouflage with environmental colors such as they can be seen in brown, yellow, or white colors as well – the survival strategy. Interestingly, they can change the texture of the skin to look like a rock or sand. They have a maximum length of 20 inches or 51 cm and feed on a variety of dietary items such as small crabs, crustaceans, fishes, hermits, or mollusks.
7: Sea Otter
Sea otters are marine mammals that can have a length of 4 feet or 1.2 meters maximum and are approximately 50 to 100 pounds weigh. They have adorable fluffy faces which help the kelp forest to flourish. The forest in return provides them with crabs, sea urchins, small fishes, snails, mussels, and small sea others to maintain their body energy.
8: Leopard Shark
They have slender bodies with silver to bronze patterns which gives them the appearance of leopards, that’s why called leopards of the oceans. They have an approximate size of 4 to 7 feet or 1.2 to 2.1 meters. They are native to kelp forests as they provide them with abundant food such as clams, crabs, fishes, worms, and larvae to feed on.
9: Orange Puffball Sponge
An orange puffball sponge is a small invertebrate, which is spherical in shape and looks like a ball, and has an orange-yellowish hue. They are about 8 inches or 200 mm in diameter. Their body bear minute pores which allow the small food particles to enter and also provide the sponge with oxygen to breathe. They mostly feed on dissolved organic products, small particles, or sometimes bacteria.
10: Sunflower Star
They are also invertebrates that have a unique star-like shape, having 24 arms that look like a sunflower that can reach up to 39 inches or 1 meter in length. They are of various colors, either brown, purple, orange, or yellow. These voracious hunters include crabs, chiton, squids, sea cucumbers, sea stars, and sea urchins in their diet.
Kelp forests are those areas under the water where algae grow in a high density, especially brown algae. The algae in this region grow extensively and they look like a tree – forming a kelp forest. This forest provides a survival habitat to a variety of aquatic as well as marine animals. These regions provide the animals with a diversified foodstuff, the animals in turn help the forest to flourish and keep the ecosystem in equilibrium.