Josie Iselin, Ocean’s Edge 3

Above/Below is an ocean literacy campaign to raise awareness about kelp forests across the Northeastern Pacific. This webstory, The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp, is currently the centerpiece of our campaign—celebrating the power of art and science to tell the bull kelp story.

logo for kelp! exhibition

Our mission is to celebrate the wonder of bull kelp and the biodiversity it supports; to inspire curiosity about the bull kelp forest through art, science, food and film; and to deepen our relationship with these extraordinary marine algae, inspiring new ways to care for, protect, and learn from these ocean forests.

Through a series of creative communications and outreach initiatives over the next few years, the Above/Below campaign aims to tell the story of bull kelp across its entire bioregion—from Monterey to the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska—as well as to connect and amplify the collective voices and impact of the regionally-specific work underway on behalf of bull kelp forests coastwide. We believe that by combining art and science through creative storytelling strategies, we can share the importance of kelp forests with a broad audience, inspire engagement in local community action, and foster a culture of ocean stewardship over the long term.

Above/Below believes in the power of art to create a sense of wonder and foster curiosity about the ecology of the ocean’s kelp forests. Art creates spaces for ideas and people to gather, learn, ask questions, and connect. When the art is inspired by bull kelp and its stories—magic happens!

Marianna Leuschel and Josie Iselin

Above/Below Co-Directors 

We are inspired to tell the bull kelp story of our northern Pacific Ocean because we have both grown to love and respect this majestic algal species and the myriad organisms that depend upon it. Its combination of beauty and mystery inspire the artist’s eye and storyteller’s heart. Its combination of resilience with vulnerability activates concern for its important, yet under-recognized, place in the oceans. Through the translucent imagery, thoughtful design, and lyrical storytelling of these pages, we hope to bring a wider swath of the human world into this realm beneath the waves to better understand and engage with the mysterious world of bull kelp.

Josie Iselin is an artist, author, and designer who has been telling seaweed and kelp stories for over a decade. Her two books An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed (2014, reprinted 2023) and The Curious World of Seaweed (Heyday 2019), tap her profound understanding of seaweed natural history and her deep connections within the seaweed science community. Her work is an extraordinary expression of both art and science. Josie directs content development for the Above/Below campaign and is the lead author of the campaign’s webstory, The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp. She teaches in the School of Design at San Francisco State University. Josieiselin.com

Marianna Leuschel was the director of L Studio, a communications design agency, for 20 years and currently runs New Agency to develop communication strategies and design campaigns for a range of clients in ocean and land stewardship. She is particularly skilled at envisioning what hasn’t been done and working with multiple stakeholders to create stories about our human relationship to the natural world, and our responsibility as stewards. Marianna now leads the campaign for Above/Below, working with creative teams to generate new ideas for communication outreach and engagement strategies and implementation of campaign initiatives. newagencyca.com

We believe in the power of collaboration. Please join us.

Josie Iselin

Marianna Leuschel

Advisors and Collaborators

Homepage and Character Illustrations by

Ellen Litwiller
artist, muralist and scientific illustrator

All photographers are credited adjacent to their work

General Scientific Advisors

Tristin A. McHugh, The Nature Conservancy

Karina J. Nielsen, Oregon State University

Regional Partners

Central California:

Mark Carr, Moss Landing Marine Labs

Josh Smith, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Northern California:

Nina Hapner, Kashia Band of Pomo Indians

Tristin A. McHugh, The Nature Conservancy

Oregon Coast:

Tom Calvenese, Oregon Kelp Alliance

Peter Hatch, Elakha Alliance

Duncan Berry, Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve

Puget Sound/NW Straits:

Tom Mumford, UW/Friday Harbor Labs

Jodie Toft, Puget Sound Restoration Fund

Dana Oster, Northwest Straits Commission

Washington Coast:

Cathy Pfister, University of Chicago

Tom Mumford, UW/Friday Harbor Labs

British Columbia:

Chris Neufeld, Kelp Rescue (former)

Patrick Martone, University of British Columbia

Maycira Costa/Lauren Man, University of Victoria

Southeast Alaska:

Matt Kern, Barnacle Foods

Jordan Hollarsmith, NOAA Fisheries

Southwest Alaska:

Melissa Good, Alaska Sea Grant

Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Patrick Saltonstall, Alutiiq Museum

Editorial Advisors

Sarah Allen, National Park Service, Retired Biologist

Rosa Laucci, Tolowa Dee-ni’ Scientific Advisor/Tribal editor

Kathy Ann Miller, UC Berkeley

Creative Team

Civiane Chung, diagrams & digital production

Alexandra Hammond, branding & communications design

Chad Upham, web design & development


Kenan Chan, kelp restoration sites

Sea & Shore Solutions, regional maps


Natasha Benjamin

Sashwa Burrous

Justin Lewis




Builder's Initiative Logo


PEW Logo 


Sea Grant Oregon and Washington Logos


Fiscal sponsor of Above/Below

The Stewardship Network

How We Built This

Josie first envisioned and conceptualized a book about bull kelp in 2020, outlining the basic structure developed for navigating this webstory. Marianna’s partnership with Josie brought her expertise in design implementation, project management, and editorial direction as well as the fabulous team of Civ Chung and Chad Upham as design implementer and web developer. Josie is responsible for the text written on the website, art direction, and the curation of the imagery, but in essence, it has been a years-long collaboration with the bull kelp community on this western edge of North America. My most heartfelt thanks go to the amazing group of scientists, researchers and photographers who are dedicated to donning gear and going into the kelp forest to capture the science, magic and majesty, as well as the degradation, of the ocean forests that we on shore do not get to see. Their generosity in sharing their expertise is what drives this project. We could not have accomplished this ambitious undertaking without our funders. My deepest thanks to those who took a leap of faith on this webstory!

This webstory is endorsed by: