Off the Northern California coast, there is a crisis beneath the waves. The kelp forest – seaweed that provided habitat and food for much of life in the ocean – is gone, wiped out by an exploding population of purple sea urchins.
The seabed has become an underwater desert. “This is mostly now a lot of rock, a lot of sea urchin, and not a whole lot of anything else,” said research scientist Laura Rogers-Bennett.
As kelp forests off America’s West Coast are being decimated by voracious sea urchins, threatening other species’ survival, a unique partnership between scientists and a seafood company hopes to turn a menace into a meal.
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