Science and Marine Kelp Forest Photography

6/26/2009 07:38:00 AM ·

A kelp forest typically occurs in cold, nutrient-rich water and is among the most beautiful and biologically productive habitat in the marine environment.

The coast of California is home to one of the most spectacular kelp forests in the country. Within the confines of this massive forest of kelp there lies an abundance of fishes, invertebrates, algae, marine birds, and marine mammals.

Photograph by Paul Nicklen

Kelp forest exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium by Stef Maruch

Image SourceSanddabs are just one of the many marine creatures inhabiting this underworld treasure. “It is an opportunistic predator, feeding on a variety of crustaceans, as well as smaller fish, squid, and octopuses.”Look very closely, as the name is derived from the sand dabs hiding within the ocean floor.

Photograph by Timothy G. Laman

Through the 19th century, the word “kelp” was largely associated with seaweeds that could be burned to obtain soda ash ( sodium carbonate). Kelp was also used directly to refer to these processed ashes.

Photograph by Timothy G. Laman

Photograph by William R. Curtsinger

Interestingly enough, Kelp ash is used in soap and glass production. Until the Leblanc process was commercialized in the early 1800s, burning of kelp in Scotland was one of the principal industrial sources of soda ash . Alginate, a kelp-derived carbohydrate is used to thicken products such as ice cream, jelly, salad dressing, and toothpaste, as well as an ingredient in exotic dog food .

Image Source verbalink

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During the Highland Clearances, many Scottish Highlanders were moved off their crofts and went to industries such as fishing and kelping . During the 1820s, when there were steep falls in the price of kelp, landlords wanted to create pools of cheap or virtually free labor supplied by families subsiding in new crofting townships.

Kelp harvesting and processing was a very lucrative way of using this labor, and landlords petitioned for legislation designed to stop emigration. However, the economic collapse of the kelp industry in northern Scotland led to further emigration, especially to North America.

Fun Facts

Kelp Forest Sculpture in Art

Kelp has made it’s way out of the waters and into the homes of collectors, restaurants, and aspiring artists. There is one man in particular that has taken this beautiful ecological marine life and transformed it into unique pieces of art.

Glass Sculpture by Jeff Burnette

Jeff Burnette is one of Canada’s premier glass blowers. Burnette has been working with glass since 1979 and in this time has developed his own unique style. He is revolutionizing the glass blowing industry in Vancouver where his 2600 sq ft workshop is located.

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