'Forests of the Sea'
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.
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.
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