A purple pest is chewing up ocean forests

An accidentally caught red urchin (right) with targeted purple urchins during a removal event at Albion Cove in Little River, California, in July. When climate change helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off northern California's coas
An accidentally caught red urchin (right) with targeted purple urchins during a removal event at Albion Cove in Little River, California, in July. When climate change helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off northern California's coast, the urchins went on a feeding frenzy and mowed down the area's kelp forests.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Early on a grey 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 Mr Josh Russo, a recreational fishing advocate who organised the event. "The evil purple urchin."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2018, with the headline 'A purple pest is chewing up ocean forests'. Print Edition | Subscribe