The north end of Edmonds’ Underwater Dive Park is the site of large kelp forest made of bull kelp, an annual kelp species that grows to full size in a single season, noted park enthusiast Matt McCallum, who submitted these photos.
“The kelp growth this year is perhaps the fastest and densest I have seen in recent years,” he said, adding that non-divers may notice the kelp fronds on the surface if they look west while walking on Sunset Avenue.
“These photos show the habitat as it is underwater,” he said. “During the winter this area is nothing but sand and scattered rock. The kelp begins to grow during spring and seemingly grows at least a foot or more a week. Several species of fish make there way toward shore to live amongst the kelp and eelgrass, such as herring, tubesnouts, rockfish, perch, lingcod, and cabezon. Young salmon are also seen feeding on the young fish. The kelp can only attach to a hard substrate such as small rocks and boulders.”
Over the past several years, Underwater Park volunteers have focused on the kelp forest and encouraged the kelp to grow further south, McCallum said. They have extended the area by introducing more substrate with the addition of natural rock boulders, creating a 1,000-foot rock “wall” and several rock cairns, each containing several tons of boulders to encourage kelp growth and fish habitat.
“Most of these photos are of kelp that is growing on human placed substrate,” he said.
McCallum noted that last Saturday, July 11, volunteer Bruce Higgins celebrated his 37th year coordinating volunteer efforts at the Underwater Park. “If you see him parked in the volunteer parking spot at Brackett’s Landing on a Saturday or Sunday, please say hi.”