Beyond The Basics

Explore the Kelp Beds Safely & Confidently

The PADI Kelp Diver  Course

What is a Kelp Diver? Kelp Diver is a course for divers who are ready to experience and broaden their dive skills and knowledge. It will appeal to a broad audience of divers who want to experience the excitement of exploring kelp beds safely and also, learn more about the ecosystems of kelp beds.

Diving in the Kelp Beds is one of the most popular things to do and why divers come from all over the world to dive at Catalina Island, Anacapa Island, Malibu and all over southern California. You’ll want to be as prepared as possible, and follow some basic but important guidelines for diving in the kelp. Kelp diving is an incredible adventure and will ultimately make you and your buddies a better diver. To get the most out of your kelp diving there are a few simple rules and skills to share with you.

Many factors can affect the quality of any kelp dive conducted underwater. Those of particular importance are surface conditions, underwater visibility, depth, bottom topography, bottom composition, vegetation, accessibility, surge, tides, currents, accuracy of bearings, water temperature, pollution, and obstacles or hazards.

The goal of this course is to for SCUBA divers to learn a systematic, methodical approach to safely diving the kelp forests. Divers will develop the techniques involved in locating marine inhabitants within recreational limits and while avoiding disturbing delicate marine life. The mechanics of avoiding kelp entanglement and practicing the "kelp crawl" can help to decrease concerns and boost your confidence in the water.

The Fun Part

So you want to be a Kelp Diver? Explore the amazing dive environment found right here in our own backyard with confidence! You’ll learn about equipment considerations and how to safely dive in kelp, while experiencing the unique ecosystem Southern California offers. Become a local kelp forest expert! With this in mind, the philosophy of this course is to focus on fun and challenging underwater navigation and discovery. 

What You Learn

  • Learn about Southern California’s Kelp Forest plant species, ecosystems, residents, its biology and environmental and commercial importance.
  • Learn to descend, navigate and ascend in the kelp.
  • Learn to move through the kelp, avoiding entanglement, and taking care to not effect the kelp.
  • Learn how to deal with entanglement individually and as a buddy team
  • Practice one technique for counting kelp used by scientists.
  • Planning and organization of and avoiding problems and hazards of kelp diving.
Kelp Diver Open Water Dive One                                                               
  • Organize, plan, and manage the dive for the environment, conditions, depth and other variables.
  • Safely descend with control and visual reference using a descent line or kelp in at a predetermined location for the start and end of the dive.
  • With a buddy, locate and record marine inhabitants in each of different regions of the kelp structure (holdfast, stipes, fronds) of the kelp forest. 
  • Explore the dive site. Maintain buddy contact and assistance as planned for that environment.
Kelp Diver Open Water Dive Two
  • Organize, plan and conduct a dive with a dive buddy using the compass heading based on Dive One.
  • Snorkel or regulator swim with a dive buddy using the “kelp crawl” out and back in an area of kelp.
  • With a buddy, locate an individual kelp plant or holdfast and count the number of stipes while using neutral buoyancy.
  • Using compass and natural navigation, explore the dive site. Maintain buddy contact and assistance as planned for that environment.
The Scuba Gear You Use
You will use the basic scuba diving equipment.
Student Equipment Recommended:
  • Slate and pencil
  • Underwater dive light
  • Compass
  • Clips
  • Access to support equipment as necessary but not limited to:  camera, marker buoys, etc. 
Check with Malibu Divers about gear rentals and special deals and packages offered with this course. You can find most everything here. 

The Learning Materials You Need
There is a student classroom presentation which is required; no other materials required.

You must be at least:

Minimum Age for this Course: 10 years old ; Boy Scouts must be 12 years old.

* Minimum pre-requisite certification level: (Jr) Open Water or equivalent.

Your Next Adventure
Certification means you’re qualified to:
1) Plan and organize a dive.
2) Participate in dives that include more advance navigation and search techniques.
3) Apply for the rating of Master Scuba Diver if you are a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or have a qualifying certification from another organization) and a PADI Rescue Diver (or have a qualifying certification from another organization) with certification in four other PADI Specialty ratings. This Specialty course certification also counts as one of five Specialty certifications required for Master Scuba Diver certification.

For more information

Dive in an Underwater Forest