An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Img_3755_c_gillies Common Kelp by Chris Gillies
  2. Img_3726__c_gillies-turned Common Kelp (up to 2m) with holdfast by Chris Gillies

Ecklonia radiata

Common Kelp


  • brown seaweed often appears as brownish-yellow in colour
  • ‘leaves’ are small spikes and/or a crinkled, grooved appearance and saw-toothed edge
  • ‘holdfast’ - a ‘root-like’ section attached to a leathery stalk.
  • Size:  up to 2m long

What to Observe

Search area for 30 minutes and record under the following categories:

  • Abundant - found easily with little searching
  • Frequent - found with minimal searching
  • Rare - only 1 or 2 individuals found with intensive searching
  • Not found - not present during search

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

As a result of climate change, warm tropical ocean currents are expected to strengthen and persist for longer periods in southern coastal area normally dominated by cooler waters. The consequent increases in water temperature are likely to result in unfavourable growing conditions for cool water algae species, causing a loss of sea weed in some areas.

When To Look

Throughout the year

Where To Look

  • Commonly washed up on beaches or may be viewed from rock platforms at low tide.
  •  Northern WA, SA, TAS, NSW, up to Caloundra QLD.


Davey, K. (1998). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. New Holland Publishers Australia Pty Ltd.

Edger, GJ. (2008). Australian Marine Life. The Plants and Animals of Temperate Waters [2nd Ed]. New Holland Publishers Australia Pty Ltd.


  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Strapweed (Lessonia corrugata) found mainly around VIC and TAS can be distinguished from common kelp by shape; strapweed is long small holdfast whilst common kelp has a more distinct root like, holdfast and much bushier shape. 

  1. Did You Know?

    Common kelp is used in producing a variety of everyday items we use around the house, such as shampoos, conditioners and skin care creams. It is also used as a fertilizer.