Press Release

Above/Below Celebrates The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp

The stunning new webstory highlights the ecosystem of the kelp forests along the North Pacific Coast.

Illustration of ocean surface with otter floating among bull kelp.

Banner image on the home page of The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp webstory.

Artist credit: Ellen Litwiller

The Above/Below campaign has recently released a beautiful new web-based book, The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp. Using profound narrative writing, gorgeous photography and illustrations, and design integrations including life-cycle diagrams, bathymetric charts, historical kelp maps, and character icons, this new website — perhaps more appropriately called a ‘webstory’— delivers holistic ecological knowledge about the bull kelp (Nereocystis leutkeana) forests of the North Pacific Coast.

Kelp forests cover a quarter of the world’s coastlines and are critical to sustaining the health and biodiversity of the oceans, but these ocean forests are disappearing fast. Along California’s North Coast, a staggering 95% of bull kelp forests have disappeared since 2014 due to a convergence of natural cycles and human impacts, including rising ocean temperatures. Throughout California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, a robust community has coalesced to study, protect, reforest, and restore the resilience of these marine forests. Due to the urgency of this issue, calls for public support are needed to grow these efforts.

Above/Below has created The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp to address this need for broader public engagement. It provides evocative storytelling to educate and engage the public so they can learn about and appreciate the complexities of the bull kelp forest ecology and the history of human engagement with ocean systems that have impacted the kelp forest so profoundly. It also provides essential information for the growing network of ecologists working fervently to understand, protect, and restore the kelp forest ecosystems and connections to their work via the regional resources links. It can be thought of as a hub for bull kelp information coastwide.

“We believe that by combining art and science through creative storytelling strategies, we can help educate a broad audience about the importance of kelp forests, inspire engagement in local community action, and foster a culture of ocean literacy and stewardship over the long term,” says Above/Below Co-Director Josie Iselin.

For first-time viewers of this online book, consider starting with the Kelp as Kin page to understand why the publishers chose to focus on bull kelp as the protagonist of this story. Then navigate through the bull kelp forest community of characters to learn about the myriad species that depend upon healthy bull kelp forests to survive, and travel to eight regions across the North Pacific where the drama of the bull kelp forest plays out in unique ways. No matter how you choose to explore, you will undoubtedly learn new things and appreciate bull kelp as the extraordinary organism it is! More details about the webstory, other Above/Below initiatives, and multidisciplinary programming to follow later in the year. For more information, visit


“It is visually stunning and information rich, just like a big, beautiful book!”
~ Jessica Owens, Northwest Straits Commission

“A truly one-of-a-kind; what a wonderful way to share the beauty and ecology of kelp forests.”
~ Meg Chadsey, Washington Sea Grant

“What a wonderful website!! It is visually appealing, tells a rich and robust story, and is a great resource for people who are curious and interested. Having a comprehensive story of bull kelp in one place is a wonderful contribution.”
~ Karina J  Nielsen, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University

“It is fantastic! This website is full of excellent and relevant information.”
~ Josh Smith, Monterey Bay Aquarium

About Above/Below

Above/Below is an ocean literacy campaign raising awareness about the kelp forests of the Northeastern Pacific. Co-directed by Josie Iselin and Marianna Leuschel, Above/Below believes in combining art and science to create a sense of wonder and foster curiosity to learn about the ecology of kelp forests and how critical they are to the health of the oceans. Through a series of creative communications and outreach initiatives over the next few years, the Above/Below campaign aims to tell the story of many of the kelp forests across the Northeast Pacific – from Alaska to the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California south to the Baja peninsula. This campaign connects and amplifies the voices of regionally-specific kelp advocates and initiatives and grows support for protecting and restoring kelp forests coastwide. 

For all press inquiries and to obtain photos and media kit, please contact Jade Fogle at