'KelpWatch' - Monitoring Giant Kelp Forests in Tasmania
Photo by: Jon BryanPhoto by: Jon BryanPhoto by: Jon BryanPhoto by: Jon Bryan

About 'KelpWatch'
Kelp Survey Form
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Kelp Forests
Kelp in Tasmania
Decline of Kelp
What are Kelps?
Biology of Kelp
Ecology of Kelp
Kelp Inhabitants
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Kelp Harvesting  

'Forests of the Sea'

Giant Kelp (genus Macrocystis) or 'String Kelp' are large, canopy forming plants which grow in dense beds along the inshore subtidal reefs of south-east South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

Kelp forests occur in cold, nutrient-rich waters and are among the most beautiful and biologically productive habitats in the marine environment. Individual plants can grow up to 30m tall, forming tall spectacular forests with the fronds providing a dense canopy which shade and modify understorey reef communities.

Distribution of Giant Kelp
Distribution of Giant Kelp (Macrocystis)

Giant Kelp forests are species/habitats of outstanding ecological and economic significance, representing areas of high biodiversity and productivity; and providing key habitats for the recruitment of economic shellfish species (ie. abalone, rocklobster). For more information, also see Inhabitants of Kelp Forests.

In addition, the large kelp plants themselves represent a major ecological keystone species, influencing the hydrological and light environment, and also, the recruitment of rocky inshore fish and invertebrates. Drift plants are important as food and for the dispersal of invertebrates, while on shore, beach wrack plants represent an important nesting and foraging habitat for shorebirds, particularly migratory species (see Kelp Ecology).

Giant Kelp forests are also of very high recreational and tourism value, providing one of the greatest diving experiences in temperate waters.

Photo by Jon Bryan
Giant Kelp Forests
(Photo: Jon Bryan)


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Enquiries and feedback: Karen.Edyvane@utas.edu.au
URL: http://www.geol.utas.edu.au/kelpwatch/   Last modified: 15. December 2004