From the sheltering canopy to the haven of the holdfast, the kelp forest nourishes and protects animals of all kinds. Juvenile fishes find shelter in the fronds near the surface, while rockfishes hover below. Use our spotting guide to identify who's who as you watch our live web cam.
These sea stars come in a wide array of colors, including purples, reds and oranges. You might spot one stuck to the exhibit's acrylic windows. Bat stars dine in an interesting way. They extend their stomachs out of their mouths to digest a meal. Size: to 4 inches (10 cm)
Ever ready to defend his turf, a male sheephead may wear his colors to warn others away. Those big buckteeth are used for crunching lunch. Size: to 3 feet (1 m)
The garibaldi's orange color, which makes it easy to see, means "Caution: this fish defends its turf." That includes shelter holes, feeding areas and, in summer, a nest of eggs. Size: to 14 inches (36 cm)
Stands of giant kelp along our coast form the most extensive underwater forest in the world. It grows faster than tropical bamboo; about four inches each day in our exhibit and 10 or more inches per day in the wild. Size: to 150 feet (46 m)
This shark's mouth (on the underside of its body) is a clue to how it feeds. As the shark cruises over the seafloor, that mouth's in a perfect position for sucking worms, clams and other creatures from the sand. Size: to 6.5 feet (2 m)
Our kelp forest includes many different kinds of rockfish. Most rockfish grow slowly and have a very long life span. Several species live longer than 100 years. Because of their slow growth and extreme longevity, rockfish mature late. Some species don't breed until they're 20 years old, making them vulnerable to overfishing. Size: range from six to 38 inches (15 to 96 cm)
Our divers hand-feed fish twice a day in our Kelp Forest feeding show. They also "do the windows" from the inside out.
The sea cucumber—shaped like a long cylinder and soft as a feather pillow; bears little resemblance to its close relatives the sea star and sea urchin. When alarmed, it creeps three feet in 15 minutes—speedy for this animal. Size: to 10 inches (25 cm)