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Commonly Harvested Kelp and Other Marine Algae

Image Species
bull kelp, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) is an annual alga found off the Pacific coast of North America and Asia. On the West Coast of North America, bull kelp ranges from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Point Conception, California. Along the California coast, bull kelp becomes the dominant kelp north of Davenport, Santa Cruz County. Bull kelp attaches to rocky substrate in depths of 4 meters to 22 meters (13 feet to 72 feet).
giant kelp, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) can be found worldwide in nearshore temperate oceans. On the West Coast of North America, this perennial kelp ranges from Southeast Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. Along the California coast, giant kelp is abundant south of San Francisco, San Mateo County and generally grows attached to rocky substrate in depths from 6 meters to greater than 30 meters (from 20 feet to more than 98 feet).
A variety of intertidal algal species are harvested for edible purposes. Commonly harvested species include:
sea palm. CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Sea Palm (Postelsia palmaeformis) is an annual kelp that ranges from Hope Island, British Columbia to Point Buchon, San Luis Obispo County, California. Sea palm resides on rocky surfaces and mussel shells in mid- to high intertidal areas exposed to heavy wave action. Sea palm may not be harvested recreationally.
grapestone, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Grapestone or Turkish washcloth (Mastocarpus papillatus) is a perennial red alga that ranges from Vancouver Island, British Columbia south to Cambria, San Luis Obispo County, California. Grapestone can be found on rocks in the mid- to high intertidal area.
bladderwrack, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Bladderwrack (Fucus distichus) is a perennial brown alga. On the West Coast of North America, bladderwrack ranges from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, Alaska south to Santa Barbara County, California. Bladderwrack can be found attached to rocks and mussel shells in low to high intertidal areas.
kombu, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Kombu (Laminaria setchellii) is a perennial kelp that resides on rocks in low intertidal to subtidal areas. Kombu may be found from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska south to Baja California, Mexico.
wakame, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Wakame (Alaria marginata) is an annual kelp that may be found from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska south to Diablo Cove, San Luis Obispo County, California. Wakame resides on rocks from the low intertidal to shallow subtidal areas.
sea cabbage, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Sea Cabbage or sweet kombu (Saccharina sessilis) is a perennial kelp that resides on rocks from mid-intertidal to shallow subtidal areas. The Pacific coast range for sea cabbage is the Aleutian Islands, Alaska south to Point Sur, Monterey County, California.
bladder chain kelp, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Bladder Chain Kelp or sea fern (Stephanocystis osmundacea) is a perennial brown alga that is found on rocks in low intertidal to subtidal areas. The range for this alga extends from Seaside, Oregon south to Baja California, Mexico.
nori, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Nori (Pyropia species) is an annual red alga found on the West Coast of North America. The range of this alga extends from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. Nori can be found throughout the intertidal and upper subtidal area on rocks, man-made structures and, depending on the species, other algae.
ulva, CDFW photo by R. Flores Miller Sea Lettuce (Ulva species) is an annual green alga that resides on rocks, molluscs, wood, and other algae throughout intertidal and subtidal areas. On the West Coast of North America, sea lettuce may be found from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, Alaska south to Baja California, Mexico.


Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940
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