Sea urchins invade Monterey Bay

(KSBW/NBC News) Crews are working on a plan to clear invasive sea urchins from California’s Monterey Bay.

“It worries me the dramatic changes that were seeing. The fish populations are dropping, kelp forests are disappearing,” says Reef Check volunteer diver William Briscoe.

In an effort to restore the kelp, volunteers headed out Sunday morning to Lovers Point, where they are working to remove the urchins.

“Our experiment is to take these discreet rocks that are out in this one area that are of a certain size, and then determine what is the threshold density. If we move or manipulate the urchins, what is the threshold density of when kelp will be restored to those areas?” explains Keith Rootsaert of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

Rootsaert says purple sea urchins are the main culprit.

Over multiple days, divers will mark specific rocks that the urchins are sitting on. They will then come back and do one massive removal of the species.

If the results are a success, Rootsaert says he hopes to get another permit that will allow them to expand the removal process.