Nav: Home

Tasty and pink, sea urchin species may be a climate-tolerant food source

January 31, 2018

Sea urchin is a delicacy in Asia, South America, Europe, and increasingly in California, where the uniquely flavored roe, or uni, is used in sushi, gourmet cuisine, and products such as sauces and flavorings. But the urchin species currently harvested off the California coast are vulnerable to increased water temperatures and ocean acidification.

But another urchin species shows potential to become an alternative fishery in the future, according to a new study published in ICES Journal of Marine Science. The fragile pink sea urchin, in contrast to its name, is less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than other urchin species currently fished in Southern California. Opening up the pink urchin to fishing could help relieve fishing pressure on other species, the researchers say.

"The current sea urchin fishery is experiencing existential stressors of regional warming, ocean acidification, and hypoxia. The fishery saw unprecedented reductions in marketable wild-caught urchins after the 2014 warm blob and 2015 El Niño, which decimated kelp forests (the primary food source for urchins) throughout California," explains Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology researcher Kirk Sato, lead author of the study. Sato led the study as a doctoral student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

The study found that the pink sea urchin is most abundant at a depth of 250 to 300 meters (820 to 984 feet), similar depths where spot prawn fishers set their traps, and that winter was the primary time when the urchins produced edible roe. The density, timing, and location of the urchins looked promising to support a viable fishery.

The researchers also tested some aspects of the food quality of the pink urchin roe. While some of the qualities, such as color and consistency, were a good match, they found that the pink urchin roe on average weighed 80% less than the red urchin.

The researchers suggest that legalizing the fishing of pink sea urchin as a bycatch to the prawn fishery could allow prawn fishers to sell the urchins they already catch, rather than throwing them back.

While it's not yet clear whether the pink urchin will indeed be opened up to commercial fishing, the research could help commercial fishing operations and state agencies plan for a future where climate change has made its mark on the oceans.

"As ocean oxygen content declines and acidity increases in California waters it will become increasingly important to incorporate these changes into fisheries management practices," says Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Lisa Levin, Sato's advisor and a study coauthor.
-end-
About California Sea Grant

NOAA's California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Our headquarters is at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; we are one of 33 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

University of California - San Diego

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#566 Is Your Gut Leaking?
This week we're busting the human gut wide open with Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Join host Anika Hazra for our discussion separating fact from fiction on the controversial topic of leaky gut syndrome. We cover everything from what causes a leaky gut to interpreting the results of a gut microbiome test! Related links: Center for Celiac Research and Treatment website and their YouTube channel
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Flag and the Fury
How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained "officially" flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. This show is a collaboration with OSM Audio. Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy is here. And the Hospitality Flag webpage is here.