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California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Eaten by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’

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Josh Russo, left, organized a group of divers and boaters to remove purple urchins from Albion Cove. CreditGabriella Angotti-Jones/The New York Times

New York Times

Originally published 10/22/2018

Climate change has helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off Northern California’s coast, sparking a feeding frenzy that has turned vast areas of crucial kelp forests into the aquatic equivalent of a desert.  The story of the kelp’s disappearance is the story of an interwoven food system breaking down, and in the process threatening people’s livelihoods, says Cynthia Catton, environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.