The stalks, or stipes, of bull kelp withstand tremendous force when waves crash onto them. They stretch and bend without snapping, and return to their original position when the wave passes. Scientists think that high concentrations of the chemical alginate are responsible for this elasticity. Whatever the reason, coastal residents of Otago and Southland have long used bull kelp stipes to make bouncing balls, like the one pictured here.
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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Melanie Lovell-Smith
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