Save the Kelp: Eat A Sea Urchin

A wonderful article on hunting, prepping, and eating the voracious purple sea urchin that has devastated the CA Kelp forests:

The solution to California’s rampant sea urchin problem is to eat them. I gave it a try
Biologists and chefs are urging people to chow down on the purple sea urchins that are destroying California’s vital kelp forests. Could I catch and cook my own?
London Guardian U.S. by Vivian Ho 11 Apr 2021

Solving the sea urchin problem


Has anyone here tasted the purple urchins?

I was just going to post that article, but you saved me the trouble @Lethe2020; sounds like a good ocean foraging opportunity for someone - could be quite the lucrative business…

Yes you can collect them on your own.

Daily limit is 35.

Why would you cook it? Better raw IMO. Though I have a had a few ricci di mare pasta dishes that were pretty good.

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It brings to mind the surge (ha!) in lionfish on menus as they became an ecological problem in many areas.


I don’t understand why the limit if purple urchin is invasive…

Yes, I have tasted the roe/gonads of a Northern California purple urchin…bitter, and not much to taste.

Maybe a warm weather event has affected the area. Maybe we are experiencing a species extinction.

There are many environmental causes that could use funding. Have you written a check this Year?

Interesting article, thanks for posting it. I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried purple sea urchin before. I found a video about harvesting and eating purple urchins from a bit farther north in Oregon:

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Harvested purple urchins in Northern California is an expense, not a lucrative business. The harvested, uneaten purple urchins present a local disposal issue.

In the olden days, star fish ate the purple urchins, a few years ago, something killed the star fish, without predators the purple urchin population increased.

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So the purple urchins aren’t considered to be a delicacy, I take it? Or the harvesting is too labor intensive? I’ve had the other type of uni…

Certain shellfish where I live are worth diving for by some, who make a pretty good living from it. Was just pondering the possibilities…

Harvest all the urchins. Abalone feed on kelp. The abalone season is closed indefinitely in California

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I see @emglow101 - yes, it was abalone I was referring to.


Please come to Mendocino County after you have been vaccinated to harvest local purple urchins.

I recommend Surf Motel for lodging, I do not know of any local places to rent dive gear…they all closed. There are other places for lodging if you are interested.


Exceptionally interesting article.

I compared the purple urchin to lionfish above. When lionfish first became a problem there were cash bounties in Florida and the Bahamas. Harvesting is still encouraged (see but I believe the bounties are gone. The lionfish market is self-sustaining. Of course they taste good.

There was a similar program for snakehead fish in the midatlantic states for a while but I think that has faded also. I don’t know if we knocked back the population or something else has happened.

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The purple urchins are not tasty. A Northern Californium university is working with state officials. The purple urchins are problems in other areas (countries) too.

Local commercial urchin divers are harvesting the purple urchins, disposal has been a problem.

Love that part of the planet @JMat - as far as harvesting the pesky purple urchins, not so much :upside_down_face: Do hope an effective solution is found.

Incineration doesn’t work? I’m thinking rural fuel heaters running on waste oil - get pretty hot.

This article says that that purple urchins are tasty and that they were exported to Japan.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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