Purple Sea Urchins Invasion at Monterey Bay

November 1, 2020, a swarm of Purple Sea Urchins invaded Monterey Bay, threatening the survival of its vital ocean ecosystem.

Not touching it, so I held it on a piece of granite rock.

No one knew when they arrived. No one knew when they started replacing some of its local life forms. Invasion happened quietly and quickly.

When people discovered the Purple Sea Urchins presence, they were already everywhere.

Tide Pools gives us clues of what’s going on in our Oceans. One specie shouldn’t dominate to the point of eliminating the rest. We can watch or we can do something.

Prolific, Sea Urchins are a danger to the Natural Habitat and Food Source necessary for the survival of the Marine and Sea Life of Monterey Bay.

The Monterey Bay stretches from Santa Cruz in the north to the Monterey Peninsula in the south.

Sea Urchins can’t co-exist with other species at the Bay because it behaves aggressively and multiples rapidly. It outruns and outlives many of the local species competing for the same food and space.

Everyone is born to guard and protect Mother Nature, but only a few will choose to follow the challenging path of being its True Warriors.

Sea Urchins eat voraciously almost anything that comes along its path. Its the ocean’s equivalent of Pac-Man. It doesn’t care if it wipes out the entire food supply of other fishes, ocean mammals and sea creatures creating a domino effect of extinction.

Shark and Sardines swimming around a garden of Kelp. Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2016.

Sea Urchins have powerful sharp teeth that can scrape algae off rocks and grinds plankton, kelp, periwinkles, even barnacles and mussels.

Not an Alien. Sea Urchin’s mouth and teeth.

So, an alarm call was made to help stop the Purple Sea Urchin invasion at Monterey Bay.

People are like Sea Urchins. We swarm the Earth, every corner, every space. We consume non-stop but never satisfied. We are aware of the Earth being in the brink of extinction but we can’t stop ourselves. So who will save us from ourselves?

Will the call save the Monterey Bay on time? Can the destruction from the Sea Urchin’s insatiable hunger still be reversed?

He was so fascinated by the creatures inside the Tide Pools, but the Sea Urchins he can’t stop talking about. He kept saying, “I will make my own Uni Sushi.” That was a year ago. Today, he is even more determined to try it. So, we’re bringing soy sauce and wasabi on our next Sea Urchin encounter.

Word by mouth, the SOS signal reached far and wide.

Our car just a dot as we began our hike decent down a steep, slippery slope.

State Park staff, volunteers, adults and children that love the Earth and the Environment answered to its emergency call.

These are the moments I’m most alive. So I do them often. To feel nothing terrifies me.

On weekends and on their free time, Friends and Families will go to the tide pools and remove the Sea Urchin patiently one by one.

I will always remember this Summer because it’s the Summer he became my Hiking Best Buddy. I learned so much of him in 3 months what I didn’t know in years. Discovering what’s in his mind and heart, his dreams and hopes, these are the best parts of our adventures together. As breathtaking and wonderful as the sceneries we’d been.

Will it be enough? Seems like an enormous task for such a vast ocean.

We went twice as fast, twice as far this time. Areas that most people haven’t seen. He calls it, “Explore and Discover.” I call it, “Mental Health.” Wild Hiking and we want more.

6 months after, we came back to check the tide pools. Not a single Purple Sea Urchin in sight. It was hard to believe, but we saw the incredible transformation with our own eyes.

So clear and still inside, crashing, dangerous outside. Balance. Zen. Nature.

When Humanity comes together, miracles happen. The impossible becomes possible.

Our tower of hope. It’s only as tall and as strong as the foundations before and beneath it.

The damage at Monterey Bay and its Ocean Life Forms were successfully reversed.

Kelp, an important food source and safety net for many sea creatures thrived from few to forests of them. Their presence, a sign of a healthy Ocean teeming with life.

This week, on our Hiking expedition at the rugged Monterey Peninsula, my son shouted, “Dad, get the sharp thingy in our car.” What he meant was to get the scalpel of a surgical Incision and Drainage tray used to cut abscess.

I entered several hidden paradise.

I shouted back, “Why? It’s too far. I can’t leave you alone or you leaving me alone. Not safe!”

Like being in another World.

Sounding very excited, he shouted louder, “It’s the Sea Urchins, they are back. Hurry!”

Flowering succulents at the hidden lagoons growing on rocks and stones.

My Dad instincts told me to be a responsible, sensible parent. I decided we both stayed as we are out of nowhere. No person around to ask for help. No cell signal. We are on our own.

He got so good hiking and climbing the rocks, he outpaced me many times. He is faster, stronger, smarter. Cycle of Life.

I improvised and got him two sharp rocks. We used it to pick up the Sea Urchin, dissect and crushed it.

OMG becomes a familiar word response. Magnificence after magnificence, adventure after adventure. We were high on Nature to and fro our hike. I actually wanted to swim but can’t go back dripping wet. Wife will be pissed off and we still have other places to go.

I could see its sharp pointed limbs moved. It’s mouth wide open with sharp teeth. It seemed to fight back to protect itself. I felt bad. It is a living creature after all. It wanted to survive.

“Dad, where would you like to eat?” Pointing to the rock he was sitting on, “Is this okay?” He knew me so well. He got the best spot with the best view.

It’s not the Sea Urchin’s fault people consider its presence as an infestation. God did not see it that way when he made the Sea Urchins. Everything was perfectly balance when the Earth was young. Everything has value and purpose to sustain all kinds of ecosystem.

But that time is long gone. Humans created Imbalance outpacing Balance. Sea Urchins and the like are considered a competition to what is important to Humans. So, it needs to be reduced if not eliminated. Extinction of one in favor of another.

Fitness and Diet Fanatic. He lost 40 lbs in 3 months following a plan of eat only when hungry, calorie mindfulness, no carbs except splurge day, daily cardio and weights. So proud of him. He is now my Weight Loss Fitness Guru.

However, Sea Urchins are hardy. They are determined, patient survivors. They may again claim dominance when conditions are in their favor.

Son wanted to eat the inside meat of the Sea Urchin. He tells me, “ It’s Uni Dad. Same from the Sushi place, only fresh from the Sea.” My answer, “Yes, fresh but E.R. is far if it has toxins.” He gave me a sad face and said, “Okay, not eating it, but next time we will do it.”

So, it’s confirmed. The invasive Purple Sea Urchins are back. The Monterey Bay is officially in danger again.

I’ll try to be braver next time and take out as much Sea Urchins as I can. Also, it’s going to be an Uni Sashimi Fest. Tummy be ready and Epi pen.

The SOS alarm signal has been activated.

Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey

Calling all Earth and Ocean Lovers for help and rescue.

From the car, my wife took a picture of me and my son climbing up. She pointed her finger to mark where we were because she said, “You guys look look like tiny Ants.”

Will Monterey Bay be saved this time? That’s the hope.

Monterey County is blessed with so much, it’s inhabitants, so lucky.

Time to save all our Oceans from around the World.

Today is our last day of Summer, no other place we would rather be, so we went back, took an hour hike. Even found a private beach, just ours. On the way home, I ask my son, “Did you enjoy your Summer? Are you happy.?” He smiled and said, “Yes, I’m happy. Told him, “That’s all that matters. I’m happy too.”

Time to be True Warriors of Mother Earth.

I want to save the Planet for him because I already had the honor and privilege to enjoy it. He is just starting to discover how amazing and beautiful it is. He deserves to experience what I had experience. All children and the next generation do.

“Our Planet is alive, but we became the swarms of Purple Sea Urchins killing it alarmingly. We don’t know when it will gasp it’s final breathe but when it does, we will die with it. Our Planet can survive without us but we can’t survive without our Planet.”

Many times I catch myself saying, “Oh, wow!”

The Planet is too beautiful to believe it has an end but it does. The Planet may not even survive for our children to grow old and enjoy like we do. That soon.

The waves continuous to bring all kinds of things, both good and harmful. It’s just a vehicle, we are the game changers or the destroyers.

So, I tell my son, “Enjoy Nature responsibly now, because there may not be a Nature the way you see it today when you get old.” He gives me this heartbreaking look and silence. My heart breaks with him. We both love Nature like we love Life itself.

If Happiness can be defined, it would be this and all its moments.

I want to believe, I want to hope that Earth and Humanity still has a fighting chance and that the next generation gets to see, experience and appreciate all the grown ups have enjoyed during their time.

But believing doesn’t translates to realization. If what I believe, if what I hope doesn’t happen, all I could assure my son is this, “That me and his mom will be there through the worst. That he will not face and endure it alone. He will always have us.”

When Nature dies, I die. When Nature lives, I live. When Nature is happy, I am happy. When Nature is flourishing, I am blessed.

Nostradamus was just a man, a very observant man. He simply watched how people treated the Earth and paid attention to its outcome. With knowledge on Math and Human Behavior, he wrote our future Apocalypse we call Prediction. Well, it’s no longer a prediction when part of the Apocalyptic process is already happening.

Adventure never ends, just the seasons. Cant wait what Fall has in store.

With that in mind, either we max out enjoyment while they last or start working on ways to do our part to save what’s left so Earth could last, we could last.

Human anger and hatred are just as invasive. When unchecked, becomes an infestation. When tempted, take a deep breathe, close our eyes, imagine our happy place, try to relax, let it go. Repeat till we are no longer a potential harm to ourselves and others.

Other option, we can join the few Haters who believes their words and acts of anger can fix all our problems. May be miracles can happen that way. I don’ know, I’m not God. Just a Dad. Just a Man.

About Island Traveler

Just a Man too curious where his dreams will take him.
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12 Responses to Purple Sea Urchins Invasion at Monterey Bay

  1. I remember back than when I lived in Germany, I would travel all over the mediterranean countries, like Italy, Greece, Turkey and so on. Sea urchins would be all over the places on the beaches and the ocean, and once you would step on them, you would be in horrible troubles, because the sting was very painful.


  2. UnstableTrip says:

    Fantastic post! Sort of two stories in one because when you read image captions you get sort of a second story! Beautifully written!


  3. Sirri Rimppi says:

    This is a very beautiful post. Sea urchins, no matter how pretty they look, can be a right nightmare. Amazing to hear about the work the community has done to keep the problem under control.


    • I didn’t understand before that they are a threat to our ocean life. I was just scared to step on it because it can cause severe pain. But the real pain is losing our oceans if we don’t try to protect it. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In some ways we are a lot like the sea urchins. Hopefully we will find a better way to coexist with nature and each other. Hopefully the efforts to remove the sea urchins one-by-one works. It’s a lot of work, but glad to see that some people are willing to put in the effort and care.


    • No mountain we can’t move when people work together. In this case, urchins infestations. I hope the analogy to humans infesting the Earth will at least wake up many of us to care and do something to nature we so much love and depend on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ab says:

    I will admit that the picture of just the one purple urchin at the top was beautiful but when viewed as part of a larger infestation and reading about its effect on marine life, then it becomes creepy and gross.

    The analogy you drew with humans is correct. We all serve a purpose on this planet but it’s all about balance and respecting and living and coexisting with peace and harmony with each other.

    But that, of course, doesn’t happen. It’s often about survival of the fittest. I hope the Monterey Bay community can get a handle on this latest infestation!


    • Very true. And your hope is my hope as well both for mankind and our oceans. Whenever I watched nature documentaries, of how we destroyed our planet in less than 100 years, it’s scares me, because another 100 years, with how fast the planet is deteriorating, there won’t be anything left. Covid is the least of our problem then. How to survive in a burning wasteland will be the future generations normal. This should not be the world adults now should leave behind, but so far, it looks like it. Take care. Thanks.


  6. Incredible post! Brilliant and…as always — beautiful!


    • Thanks. It is our happiest place this Summer. We came back yesterday to say goodbye and do our last Summer hike. Farther this time, su said coming back, “you look like your dying.” It was a challenging exercise but I enjoyed every moment of it. I will miss Summer for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

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