A Struggle for Survival on the Ocean Floor

Nov 7, 2016

Hungry purple sea urchins swarm over a kelp stalk, the primary reason the plants are in decline, although thy are beginning to recover in some areas.

The die-off of starfish along the Pacific coast has disrupted the underwater ecosystem, with a radical impact on other sea life on the region’s ocean floor. 

Clumps of kelp, washed up on Doran Beach and other locations along the Sonoma Coast, are an indicator that the ocean floor plants are beginning to recover.
Credit Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  Kelp has an unusual two-stage life cycle, explains Fish and Wildlife environmental biologist Cynthia Catton, and the large plants we see are actually just a small part of that.


Sport diver Josh Russo says the thriving kelp forests of the early 2000s also supported a surge in the regions’ abalone populations, which are now declining along with the kelp. But that, too, is inconsistent.