The New York Times: California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Eaten by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’

ALBION, Calif. — Early on a gray summer Saturday, an unusual assemblage — commercial fishermen, recreational boaters, neoprene-clad divers — gathered for a mission at Albion Cove, a three-hour drive north of San Francisco.

“Our target today is the purple urchin,” said Josh Russo, a recreational fishing advocate who organized the event. “The evil purple urchin.”

Five years ago, assigning wickedness to the purple urchin, a shellfish the size of a plum with quarter-inch spikes, would have been absurd.

That was before the urchins mowed down Northern California’s kelp forests.

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