Alaska Sea Grant

Consumers: Marine Invertebrates and Fish in the Kelp Forest

Sea urchines, photo courtesy of Heloise Chenelot

Several types of animals depend on the kelp forest as their habitat. They find shelter there because the many tall blades of the kelp break the force of the waves. Inside the kelp forest, the water is calm and small animals can avoid being washed away by the waves. They also cling to the kelp and find hiding places from the other animals that want to eat them.

Sea urchins and snails eat the kelp, either when it is alive or after it has died back each year. Sea urchins feed at the base of the kelp, and large numbers of urchins can actually cut down a tall kelp. Crabs are the resident scavengers. Young salmon and other small fish that live in schools find shelter in kelp forests.

Alaska Sea Grant University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Department of Education and Early Development NOAA