5 Amazing Creatures That Live In Kelp Forests

Discover some of the animals that depend on the planet's underwater rainforests

Kelp crab clinging to a kelp stipeKelp Forest Alliance

Kelp forests support a dizzying array of animals - from the smallest snail to the largest whales. Thousands of species depend on these underwater rainforests for their food, nurseries and shelter.

Let's take a look at five from around the globe...

Raft of Sea OttersOriginal Source: Mike Bird

1. Sea Otters

They are the fuzziest animal on the planet and they live in kelp forests! These marine mammals are the key to healthy oceans and have a deep connection to helping the forests, where they live, hunt, and snooze.

Sea Otter Wrapped in KelpOriginal Source: Ingrid Taylar

Sea otters set their own dining table —they float on their backs and use their tummies as tables to crack open their meals. Once they've feasted on sea urchins, it's nap time and they will hold hands while sleeping to prevent drifting apart.

Abalone and kelpOriginal Source: Grant Callegari

2. Abalone

A type of marine snail, these animals cling to the rocks as waves thunder over the top. Prized by people for millennia as food and art, abalone can support rich fisheries but over harvesting and disease has collapsed many populations.

Abalone ShellOriginal Source: Hilary Haliwell

Abalone shells have been used for fishing equipment, in jewelry, and even as currency. The spiral of the beautiful shells follows the a mathematical formula known as the 'Fibonacci sequence' - a pattern shared with pine cones, flowers, galaxies, and hurricanes.

Weedy SeadragonOriginal Source: John Turnbull

3. Sea Dragons

"Thar truly be dragons in these waters!" Sea Dragons roam the kelp forests of the Great Southern Reef in Australia, hunting for small crustaceans and blowing only bubbles, not fire.

Ecklonia forest SydneyOriginal Source: John Turnbull

Unlike their mythical counterparts, sea dragons don't have teeth or a stomach! They use their long snouts to suck up food and rely on their camouflage for survival, rarely traveling more than 10 meters in a day.

Giant Pacific OctopusOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Zoo

4. Giant Pacific Octopus

The only thing that can make a giant Pacific octopus look small is a giant kelp forest! These wickedly intelligent molluscs weave through the trunks of these sunken forests in search of prey.

GPO EyeOriginal Source: Colby Stopa

Octopuses can change both their color and texture for camouflage - matching the golden greens, yellows, and browns of the kelp. They're also known for their impressive parenting; females lay thousands of eggs and guard them devotedly.

Harbour Seal in KelpOriginal Source: Alex Cowdell

5. Harbour Seal

Affectionately known as 'sea sausages', these clumsy looking critters are remarkably nimble in the water. Seals will often play among the kelp forests - spying on nearby divers and even coming in for the occasional chin scratch.

Harbour Seal in KelpOriginal Source: Florian Graner

Harbour seals have whiskers that detect vibrations in the water, helping them to locate their prey. They can also sleep underwater, coming up for air without waking up. You'll often find them having a snooze on the sea floor among the kelp leaves.

Baja California kelp forestOriginal Source: Rodrigo Baes

Visit our website to find out more about kelp forests around the world, and to join the race to save our global marine forests.

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