California mobilizes to save invaluable kelp – will efforts be vain?
California’s north coast used to be covered in a bull kelp forest creating a safe ecosystem for fish and other organisms to grow. Four years ago an epidemic wiped out the sunflower sea star leaving the purple sea urchins without their main predators and freedom to graze on kelp and grow their population. Today this once thriving ecosystem is known as an “urchin barren” because it is only inhabited by purple sea urchins and not many other marine animals. This problem is still made worse by the fact that kelp forest are unable to thrive in the growing temperatures of the ocean making growing these forests back even more difficult. Normally sea otters are unable to keep sea urchin populations low but that is not what they are seeing in Monterey. One solution to this problem is sending kayaks and boats out with a giant vacuum and sucking up the urchins and then turning them into compost. Some places have used hammers and gone around smashing urchins but there is currently a law against doing this. To take this further I would look more into this law and see what it is protecting and how reversing it could benefit or harm the ecosystem. Also looking at how if there are sea otters in the area the population of sea urchins still continue to grow? Is it worth looking at efforts to bring back the sunflower sea star?
Bland, Alastair. “California Mobilizes to Save Invaluable Kelp – Will Efforts Be in Vain?” Oceans, News Deeply, 9 Apr. 2018, www.newsdeeply.com/oceans/articles/2018/04/09/california-mobilizes-to-save-invaluable-kelp-will-efforts-be-in-vain.