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Channel Islands - The Realm of the Giant Kelp

The Channel Islands offer world-class diving. Below the surface the islands play host to forests of giant kelp and a multitude of abundant marine life, supported by nutrient rich, cold water upwellings.

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Photo: Matthew Meier | Matthew Meier Photography

The rocky reef structure is covered with algae and sponge growth, bryozoans and hydroids, anemones, tube worms, burrowing sea cucumbers, sea stars, urchins and nudibranchs. Spiny lobster, moray eels and octopus shelter in crevices, while fish species too numerous to mention, range from the resident bright orange Garibaldi to colossal giant sea bass.

Macrocystis pyrifera, commonly known as Giant kelp or Giant bladder kelp, is a species of kelp (large brown algae), and one of four species in the genus Macrocystis.

Giant kelp is common along the coast of the eastern Pacific Ocean, from Baja California north to southeast Alaska, and is also found in the southern oceans near South America, South Africa, and Australia. Individual algae may grow to more than 45 metres (148 ft) long at a rate of as much as 2 feet (61 cm) per day.