Giant Bladder Kelp

The Giant Bladder Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is a marine (saltwater) heterokont in the Laminariales family of algae. It is not a plant. A heterokont includes algae, such as kelp, diatoms, and plankton.

The Giant Bladder Kelp grows in a diagonal direction due to the ocean current pushing against it. It has stalks that grows from a holdfast and branches out three or four times. Each blade has a single gas bladder, called a pneumatocyst. 

Giant Bladder Kelp

It grows to about 50 metres (160 feet) long. It grows in stands called kelp forests. It is one of the fastest growing organisms on Earth, growing at a rate of 60 centimetres (24 inches) a day. 

The Giant Bladder Kelp is found along the coast of the western Pacific Ocean, from California to Alaska. It is also found in the southern oceans near Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South America. 

The juvenile grows direcly on its mother (gametophyte). The juvenile produces one or two primary blades and begins a rudimentary holdfast, which serves to anchor the plant to the rocky bottom of the ocean. As the kelp grows, additional blades develop from the growing tip.

Location of photograph: Canberra National Zoo and Aquarium, Australia 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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