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Egregia menziesii - Feather boa kelp

Geographic range:
Alaska to Point Eugenio, Baja California, Mexico

Key features:
Thick, tough, belt-like central stipe with fringing blades and elongated floats (i.e. pneumatocysts). Can be up to 10 m long.

Similar species:

bay (rocky shore), exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Egregia menziesii - Feather boa kelp image


Primary common name:
Feather Boa Kelp
  ITIS code:
Synonymous name(s):
Fucus menziesii
General grouping:
Brown seaweed/algae

Geographic Range
Range description:
Egregia menziesii occurs from Alaska to Point Eugenio, Baja California, Mexico.
Northern latitude extent:
  Southern latitude extent:
East longitude extent:
  West longitude extent:

Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
-0.6006006 meters OR -2 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
Intertidal height notes:
Egregia menziesii can be found in the low intertidal or even mid intertidal on highly exposed shores.

Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Maximum depth:
6 meters OR 19.98 feet
Subtidal depth notes:
Egregia menziesii is commonly found in the subtidal region down to 20 m in depth.

bay (rocky shore), exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Habitat notes:
Egregia menziesii grows on rocks in the lower intertidal and subtidal zones to about 20 m in depth. On very exposed shore, it may be found slightly higher up in the intertidal region.

Relative abundance:
Egregia menziesii is common in the subtidal and occasional in the intertidal.

Species Description
General description:
Egregia menziesii belongs to the Order Laminariales in the Family Alariaceae and was formerly referred to as Fucus menziesii. This brown alga is one of the largest intertidal kelps. It frequently forms continuous belts in the intertidal, as well as dense patches in the subtidal and is often mixed with Macrocystis pyrifera in deeper water. This species is named after the botanist Archibald Menzies who collected seaweed specimens on a fur-trading vessel. This kelp resembles a feathery scarf, which lends the common name Feather Boa Kelp.
Distinctive features:
Egregia menziesii is usually dark brown to olive green in color, though near the blade tip it may be lighter and more golden brown in color. The stipe arises from a massive, branching holdfast up to 25 cm in diameter and branches repeatedly and somewhat irregularly. Near the base of the plant, the stipe is cylindrical and in the upper portions it is quite flattened and straplike near the tip. The stipe may be smooth or patchily to densely covered with tubercles. The stipe divides into up to two dozen branches, or fronds, that may be up to 10 m long or more. Each frond bears a fringe of numerous small blades and oblong floats. Some of the blades serve as sporophylls and become completely covered with microscopic sporangia, the spore forming organs. The sporophylls are shorter and narrower than sterile blades.

The morphology of this species distinctly varies geographically. Northern populations from Alaska to Cape Mendocino have tuberculated stipes and smooth sporophylls. Southern populations from Los Angeles to Baja California have smooth stipes and wrinkled sporophylls. Interestingly, populations of the central coast from Mendocino County to Ventura County and the Channel Islands express every possible combination of features observed in the northern and southern geographies as well as a few unique vegetative and reproductive morphologies.
Egregia menziesii can grow to a total length of 20 m, though usually grows to about 10 m. Larger specimens grow subtidally.

Natural History
General natural history:
Egregia menziesii, like all brown algae, contains the green pigment chlorophyll, but it also contains gold and brown pigments, which mask the green color of chlorophyll and cause a brownish coloration. The dominant pigment in all brown algae is fucoxanthin and it reflects yellow light. Like many other large kelps, Egregia menziesii is used as a mulch and fertilizer by coastal farmers.
The limpet Tectura insessa feeds on Egregia menziesii as well as its epiphytes.
Egregia Menziesii nourishes itself through photosynthesis, converting the energy of light to the energy of carbohydrate molecules.

Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Feeding behavior notes:
April - November  
Egregia Menziesii has perennial sporophytes that can mature at any time of year, but most often do so between April and November.
Abbott, I.A., and G.J. Hollenberg. 1976. Marine Algae of California. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 827 p.

Mondragon, J. 2003. Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast: common marine algae from Alaska to Baja California. Sea Challengers, Monterey, CA. 97 p.

Ocean Link. 2006. Seaweeds. World Wide Web electronic publication., Accessed [08/07/06].

O\'Clair, R.M. 2000. North Pacific Seaweeds. Plant Press, Auke Bay, Alaska. 162 p.

Ricketts, E. F., J. Calvin, and J.W. Hedgpeth. 1985. Between Pacific tides. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. 652 p.

Waaland, R. 1977. Common Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast. Pacific Search Press, Seattle, Washington. 120 p.

Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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