A group of unlikely restoration heroes reached an impressive milestone this summer: the 500,000th sea urchin is now working with its companions, helping struggling corals in Hawaiʻi. Since 2011, NOAA and partners at the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources have grown and released urchins to the area. The urchins eat invasive algae threatening corals and their ecosystems.
This prickly partnership began after M/V Cape Flattery grounded on a shallow reef off of Barbers Point on Oʻahu in 2005. Damage from the ship’s removal affected almost 20 acres of reef, scraping away approximately one million corals.