Sea Urchin Hatchery
The key to maintaining low levels of invasive algae is the presence of native herbivores. The DAR Sea Urchin Hatchery at the Ānuenue Fisheries Research Center spawns and raises native Hawaiian collector urchins (Tripneustes gratilla) as a tool to fight invasive alien seaweeds in Hawai‘i. In most situations, the invasive seaweed is removed by hand or by mechanical means from the troubled areas. But without a strong population of native herbivores, like Hawaiian collector urchins, the seaweed will grow back.
DAR actively removes invasive algae from affected ecosystems and then maintains low levels of invasive algae by placing these farm-raised urchins onto reefs. They nibble away at the invasive seaweed as it starts to regrow, like underwater gardeners pulling weeds, or like goats eating away on unwanted brush. Without invasive algae to compete with for space and light, corals are able to thrive.