Press Release

Celebrate Kelp at the North Coast KelpFest!

KelpFest! explores an irreplaceable underwater ecosystem and teaches about recovery efforts with a month of exciting art, science, food, and film events in Mendocino and Fort Bragg. 

Bull kelp layered on a blue and white background. A blue circle with ochre font that says "kelp!"

Bull kelp forests once stretched along the Pacific Coast from Monterey to Alaska but have declined in California and Oregon since 2014 due to warming oceans and other human and environmental impacts. KelpFest! explores the beauty and benefits of kelp and highlights the recent kelp loss and recovery efforts on the North Coast of California.

North Coast KelpFest! is a volunteer-powered, community-based collaboration that brings together art, science, and food to tell the story of the kelp forest ecology. From May 18th to June 16th, this month-long series of events includes kelp-centric art and photography exhibits, workshops for fabric dying, glazing ceramics, and cyanotype printing from elements of this ecosystem, low tide walks with seaweed foragers and scientists, kelp recovery demonstrations, expert panel discussions, a seaweed science socials and happy hour, wild and farmed uni tastings as a part of this year’s Urchin Festival, and a kelp film series at the Mendocino Film Festival. 

The festival begins on May 18th from 4-7 pm at the opening of the festival’s Kelp! Art Exhibit featuring local and regional artists, which will be showing all month at the Mendocino Art Center. The opening will host a dance ceremony by The Yuki Dancers, food and beverage offerings by local chefs, wineries, and breweries, and an introduction to kelp forests on the North Coast.

On May 25, enjoy an early morning low-tide walk in MacKerricher State Park with seaweed guru Dr. Kathy Ann Miller of UC Berkeley, who will later host a kelp afternoon at the Noyo Center Marine Field Station with other kelp aficionados. May 26th will be family day at Big River Beach in Mendocino where the public can learn about the kelp recovery project led by Tristin McHugh of The Nature Conservancy along with program partners – see bull kelp in its various stages of growth, discover how urchins are removed from the ocean to allow baby kelp to reestablish, and explore how to become a volunteer diver to help restoration efforts.

From May 30th to June 2nd, the 17th annual Mendocino Film Festival presents a diverse program of outstanding films spanning genres, periods, and subject matter. The Kelp! Film program includes two short films and a feature documentary film, Forests Above/Forests Below (2022), A Disappearing Forest (2023), and Send Kelp! (2024). Following the screenings will be a panel discussion.

June 8 is World Ocean Day and another opportunity for a morning low-tide seaweed walk at MacKerricher State Park with visual artist, author, and co-director of Above/Below Josie Iselin, Fort Bragg resident and long-time commercial seaweed harvester Larry Knowles, and founder of Yemaya Seaweed Company, Julie Drucker. Artists and educators will share their knowledge and experience in a seaweed gathering the same afternoon, giving us an in-depth understanding of the delicate intertidal ecosystem.

The festival will come to a close with a celebration at the Noyo Center Marine Field Station from 4-7 pm on June 15th featuring a speaker panel including researchers from The Nature Conservancy, local urchin diver Grant Downie, guests from the Kashia Pomo Indian TribeChef Matthew Kammerer of the Harbor House in Elk, and others, discussing aquaculture and ocean foodways. Noyo Center Executive Director Sheila Semans will moderate the program. Following the panel will be a Seaweed Happy Hour with tasty organic bites prepared by local Chef Zenith Hilliard, together with Minus Tide wines, and local brews.

View the full schedule of events on the North Coast KelpFest! website. The many ocean-oriented, kelp-inspired, art and science-focused events will engage the hearts and minds of all, contribute to the success of local kelp recovery efforts, and create sustained appreciation and stewardship for this ocean ecosystem.

The North Coast KelpFest! is organized by Above/Below, Word of Mouth Magazine, Mendocino Art Center, Noyo Center for Marine Science,the City of Fort Bragg, The Mendocino Film Festival, MendoParks, and Xa Kako Dile. Sponsors of the festival include The Nature Conservancy, Visit Mendocino, The Ocean Protection Council, and California Sea Grant.  

Registration for ticketed events can be purchased at Eventbrite or on the Mendocino Art Center website. Many events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit 

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