Underwater Foliage: The Oceans’ Best Kept Secret

Sat, Oct 29, 2016 at 4:25PM

Underwater Foliage: The Oceans’ Best Kept Secret

There’s nothing quite like the vivid fall foliage we see at this time of year—rich orange, red and yellow hues frame the sides of our favorite waterways and make for perfect fall boating. But as much as we love the foliage above water, there’s something just as interesting going on below the surface—underwater forests!

While they may not show off the same vivid hues we’re used to seeing on land, these forests are impressive in their own right. Below, take a look at what makes these features so unique.

Remnants of land…

A submerged forest is one that used to consist of rows of trees, much like one you would spot on land today—but due to sea level rises and other natural events, is now found below the surface.

The world’s waters are home to more submerged forests than you might expect! The coast of Wales is home to submerged forests, whose tree stumps you can just spot peeking out from under the water. Even in the United States, the Great Lakes area is home to its share of submerged forests. The southern side of Lake Huron, for example, sits atop a forest of downed logs and even some still-rooted stumps that are suspected to have grown thousands of years ago.

…or formations of the sea

Another kind of underwater forest has never actually grown on land—it’s a fixture of the water! Known as a kelp forest, this patch of underwater life is teeming with the large seaweed known as kelp, which provides a productive habitat for many species. Unlike the seaweed you often see in the frothy ocean waves or drying up on shore, however, the giant kelp found in these forests is actually rooted to the sea floor by way of a holdfast, or root-like feature.

Because the kelp forest is rooted to the ground, it might appear surprisingly similar to the forests we see on land—rich in color and densely packed with fronds that might make navigating the space a challenge.

These forests are just another reminder—what you see above the water is really only half the story!

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