The coast of Cape Town is fringed by an incredibly unique and important ocean ecosystem: the kelp forest. Kelp forests can be found all over the world and there are many different types of kelp. Kelp forests are home to a wide variety of different animals and they are as important to humans as they are for the wellbeing of the animals that they support. On top of all this, they are beautiful, peaceful and truly captivating ecosystems to explore.
Kelp grows incredibly fast, some species are known to grow a whopping 25cm per day! Because of this fast growth, kelp forests provide a vital food source to many animals. Another perk of its large size is protection; many fish species use kelp forests as nurseries for their young to grow to maturity below the comparative safety of the kelp canopy.
Kelp forests are wonderful habitats for marine organisms, but they are also beneficial to humans! Apart from being truly beautiful to explore, kelp forests protect our coastlines, cleanse the air we breathe and they are an easily accessible ecosystem for humans to learn more about the underwater world.
Despite all of the wonders that kelp forests support and provide, they are an ecosystem under threat. Over fishing and over harvesting of the kelp itself are problems faced by kelp forests globally. We believe kelp forests are an ecosystem worth cherishing, just have a look at the photographs below if you need convincing...
Photos by Peter Marshall.