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Bull Kelp - Nereocystis luetkeana
Photo by Steven K. Webster

Bull kelp is a large kelp that can reach a length of over a hundred feet. It has a long, hollow stipe that enlarges gradually toward the surface. There is a huge elongated air chamber and a bulb at the top, on which numerous long blades (up to 12 feet long) are attached. They grow as fast as 10 inches a day. After a storm, it is often found washed up on the beach. The Native Americans used the dried bull kelp blade like "potato chips".

Bull Kelp
(Nereocystis luetkeana)

In California, from the Oregon border to Pismo Beach .

Lower subtidal zone, in deep cold water. Depth approx. 40-100 feet.

Autotrophs - they use light and nutrients from the water.


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Bull kelp is the most massive kelp in Northern California; it can reach a length of over a hundred feet.

Learn More
- The Race Rocks Taxonomy
- UC Santa Cruz
- Sea Otter.Com