Of Puget Sound's 500 seaweed species, one especially grabs our attention. Walk the beach in fall or winter, and you're sure to find the long narrow tubes and flat blades of bull kelp washed ashore. This organism is one of the fastest growing of all that get energy directly from the sun. Usually living just one year, bull kelp may gain 8 inches a day eventually reaching from 20 to over 100 feet.
The kelp's holdfast, a root-like structure, anchors it to rock at the bottom of Puget Sound. A long tube connects the holdfast to a round float at the water's surface. This float ensures that the kelp's flat blades stay near the water's surface to gather the sun's energy.
You can see bull kelp growing in tangled bunches close to shore. Underwater, it forms a forest providing many different animals food or cover. These dense kelp forests also dampen waves and protect the shore from erosion.
People have long used kelp. Some parts served as containers, others can be made into fishing gear or medicines or ... pickles.
Next time you're at the shore, take a closer look at the amazing Bull Kelp.