Sea urchins help control alien seaweed on reef

HONOLULU (AP) - Sea urchins produced at a Sand Island hatchery are again being enlisted to fight invasive seaweed that can smother a reef.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports tens of thousands of the juvenile native sea urchins will be deposited on patches of reef at Kaneohe Bay.

Most of the alien seaweed is removed by suction machine. The small, round and spiny sea urchins mature and eat remaining alien seaweed.

The first release in 2011 placed 1,000 sea urchins on the reef.

Hatchery manager David Cohen says their success led to the hatchery releasing 60,000 sea urchins last year. He's hoping for 80,000 this year.

The state's Anuenue Fisheries Research Center works under contract with the state Division of Aquatic Resources to grow the sea urchins.

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