a sea otter swimming in the water surrounded by yellow buoys

Kelp – Ten Interesting Facts

Kelp is common sight on Wildcoast Sea Kayaking Adventures and we thought you’d like to know more about this fascinating plantimal (see fact #8). Here are just a few interesting facts:

  1. The female kelp produces a perfume that attracts the sperm. This substance smells like gin.
  2. It’s slime called fucoidan, is thought to hold off the diseases associated with aging (hypertension, diabetes, stroke, etc.)
  3. Iodine, as an element, was first discovered in kelp. The concentration of iodine in kelp is up to 20,000 greater than in seawater.
  4. The San Francisco Philharmonic featured kelp horns on one occasion.
  5. Many mammals and birds (seals, sea lions, whales, sea otters, gulls, terns, herons, & cormorants) find shelter or food in its fronds. It’s a great place to hide from predators or to weather the turbulence of storms.
  6. Kelp are not plants. They are sessile and photosynthetic but do not have roots. They are actually the largest member of the Kingdom Protista.
  7. It grows quickly, up to 18 inches per day and often grow as high as 150 feet underwater.
  8. Instead of roots, it uses something called holdfasts to attach itself to solid structures such as rocks. Many species have gas-filled bladders called pneumatocysts that keep the fronds afloat in water.
  9. It is a source of umami flavour, and often used as a flavour enhancer. The brown pigment of kelp, fucoxanthin, is a strong antioxidant.
  10. It is harvested for many products from toothpaste to food products. Canadian Kelp Resources is one west coast company that produces a line of sea vegetables.

Want to learn even more about Kelp? Order a copy of Pacific Seaweeds by Louis Druehl & Bridgette Clarkston to learn about every aspect of seaweed life, from species identification and seaweed biology to the essential–and often surprising–roles seaweed plays in the marine ecosystem and our everyday lives.