Sea Urchin Breeding

Sea urchins are probably some of the most under-appreciated residents of the reef.  After all, we are taught to stay away from their sharp, sometimes poisonous, needle-like spines right?  Yet, sea urchins are important to the well-being of reef communities.  They are herbivores and eat algae and seaweed.  On reefs, they keep the amount of algae and seaweed growth controlled.  Without urchins, the algae and seaweed might smother corals.  Collector urchins are native to Hawai’i and can be found statewide.  They have been bred in captivity to help keep algae and seaweed growth down in Kāne’ohe Bay.  Anuenue Fisheries on Sand Island is the first to breed and release collector urchins successfully in the islands.  It plans to release up to 25,000 urchins per month into the bay to control the growth of invasive seaweed of the genus Kappaphycus (smothering seaweed).

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