Bull Kelp

Bull kelp, known scientifically as Nereocystis Luetkeana, is a sub-tidal sea plant commonly located along the Pacific seashore. They are large, brown seaweeds that grow from spore to maturity over the course of a year. Bull kelp have rootlike holdfasts that ground them to the seafloor and long stems (called stipes) that grow upward to the ocean surface for it’s leaf-like blades to conduct photosynthesis. Bull kelp forests are biogenic habitats that provide nourishment, diversity, and productivity for a wide range of species. In the Pacific Northwest, a variety of marine animals such as salmon, rockfish, and crab call these kelp beds home.

Renewable - Bull kelp is one of the fastest growing seaweeds in the world. Studies show that bull kelp can grow an average length of 4 inches per day and up to 200 feet in one season. Kelp growth happens rapidly, making it easy to replenish and difficult to deplete.

Sustainable - Bull kelp, and most all seaweeds, requires only sunlight and temperate ocean water to grow. Luckily, these resources are both abundant and naturally occurring. No added resources are needed or exhausted. Unlike other food productions, which require massive quantities of fresh water or release methane into the atmosphere, kelp has zero carbon footprint. In fact, it is even a net positive for the environment! By absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment, kelp improves surrounding water quality and mitigates the effects of ocean acidification (a harmful byproduct of climate change on marine ecosystems).

Kelp has also played a historic role as coastal food for humans. Unknown to many, the Kelp Highway Hypothesis is a leading theory that kelp was used as sustenance for the first Americans and acted as a seaweed roadmap from Asia to the New World. Kelp has been used for thousands of years in Korean and Chinese cultures, and it is becoming more popular in American cuisine today.

Source: NOAA (National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration), Harvard University and Ocean Wise