I don't know about you, but I'm pretty easily entertained. Give me an old tennis ball, empty water bottle, pine cone (anything chewable, really) and I'll have a good time with it. The beach has become my #1 favorite place to sniff out playthings and yesterday I discovered this stuff called kelp (shown here as a brown blob with one end bitten off).
Kelp is the Jack's beanstalk of ocean algae. It lives in chilly, shallow water and can grow 2 feet a day to lengths of a hundred feet (even faster than that crazy kudzu plant). Kelp beds create underwater forests that provide food and shelter for so many different forms of ocean life that Charles Darwin called them rain forests of the sea.
Even if you've never eaten something you found washed up on the beach, chances are you've eaten kelp. It's used as a common binding agent in things like ice cream, salad dressings and cereals. For those of you who've never bitten into an actual kelp plant, let me tell you - the stuff is weird. Firm on the outside, hollow in the middle, with a thick jelly-ish bit in between. Good stuff!
Sadly, my human took away my kelp right after today's photo was taken. She said the plant's yummy jelly goodness can swell in stomach and cause big problems. I tried guilting her into getting me some kelp-containing ice cream, but she said no to that too.
** see kelp for yourself at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Kelp Cam **