Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kayaking among the kelp

Lately I've taken a liking to kelp. It is hard to believe that those 6 foot (or longer) tubes with 2-3 foot leaves attached to the bottom of the oceans are classified as an algae! I used to think scientists didn't pay enough attention to most sea plants to classify them correctly. However, lately I've discovered that their chromosomes are haploid just like algae and moss. (More about that on a future blog of sex-life of moss)

Anyway, the tubes are barely attached to the ocean floor by a thin and weak "holdfast" or root system. The stem and "bulb" floats up with its "blades" or leaves floating about 6 feet above the ocean floor. Under the brown (and occasional green or yellow) leaves is a world of urchins eating the kelp and starfish and sea otters eating the urchins. It is really beautiful to kayak about 2 feet above those leaves. I am tempted to put on a wet suit, mask and snorkel to go explore that ocean floor forest. Just hope I don't get tangled up in those stems.

After a storm, much of the kelp is torn lose from the ocean floor and that is what you see floating on the top of the water on a calm day like the one when I snapped these pictures. When kayaking through them, you have to be careful because occasionally they get tangled up on my paddle and pull it out of my hands. My grand daughter and I tried to pull one ashore a few weeks ago but it created such a drag that we could not make any headway while I paddled and she held on to one tube.

This week we brought one in by loading it into the kayak. Here is a picture of it at the beach with its holdfast still attached to its anchoring rock. Note that it's about twice the length of our 14 foot kayak.

1 comment:

Tori said...

I've just recently discovered this blog. (I was missing good ol' salmonberries, and my google search lead here.)

I live in Kodiak for three years when I was younger. I loved it there sooooooooo much. Although it's not the longest I've ever lived in one place (although, it is a the second longest), it is by far my favorite. Reading this blog has made me homesick, but it has brought back fantastic memories as well.

I love that you cover such a variety of topics in your posts. And your pictures are fantastic as well.

Thank you.