Above/Below and The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp

Above/Below is an ocean literacy campaign for the kelp forests of the Northeast Pacific. Co-directed by Josie Iselin and Marianna Leuschel, Above/Below believes in the power of combining art and science 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! 

Bull kelp forests can be compared to the majestic forests on land yet many people don’t know they exist, nor understand how important these marine systems are hidden beneath the ocean's surface. The Above/Below campaign aspires to extend our love and appreciation for terrestrial forests to the forests of the sea.

Above/Below supports a collective of artists, scientists, and ocean advocates collaborating to tell the story of bull kelp along the North Pacific Coast. Their 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 grow a connection with this extraordinary marine algae, inspiring new ways to care for, protect and learn from the forests of the sea.

Above/Below has recently published the web-based book The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp to address a need for broader public engagement. 

It is visually stunning and information rich, just like a big, beautiful book!

~ Jessica Owens, Northwest Straits Commission

This brand new website provides important information and resources for the growing network of ecologists working feverishly to understand kelp forest systems. It also provides important connections to their work via the resources links and serves to  educate and engage the broader public so they can learn about and appreciate the complexities of the bull kelp forest ecology and the history of our own human engagement with ocean systems that has impacted the kelp forest so profoundly. It can be thought of as a hub for bull kelp information coastwide.

The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp uses deep narrative writing, gorgeous photography, illustrations, and engaging design integrating life-cycle diagrams, bathymetric charts, historical kelp maps, and character icons to deliver holistic ecological knowledge about the bull kelp forests of the North Pacific Coast. 

A truly one-of-a-kind; what a wonderful way to share the beauty and ecology of kelp forests.

~ Meg Chadsey, Washington Sea Grant

It is fantastic! This website is full of excellent and relevant information.

~ Josh Smith, Monterey Bay Aquarium

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 

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. Above/Below will connect and amplify the voices of regionally-specific kelp advocates and initiatives to grow support for bull kelp forests 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.

~ Josie Iselin, Co-Director, Above/Below 

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