Public Invited to Free Talk on Conserving Hawaii’s Coral Reefs through Sea Urchin Aquaculture

Want to learn about how to conserve Hawaii’s corals through sea urchin aquaculture? The public is invited to a free presentation called “Aquaculture of Native Sea Urchins to Control Invasive Macroalgae” on Wednesday, May 12 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

David L. Cohen of the State of Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will be the guest speaker for the next “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series,” which is hosted every month by the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council.

Reserve a spot at the free presentation at 

Cohen manages the sea urchin hatchery on Oahu for DAR and the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU). He holds a Bachelor of Science in General Biology from Connecticut State University.

From 1985 to 1992, Cohen worked in shellfish aquaculture and as a commercial oysterman in New England. Since moving to Hawaii, he has grown food fish and shrimp and worked with captive bred ornamental fish.

In 2010 he started work with PCSU and DAR developing hatchery methods to grow native sea urchins to control non-native invasive macroalgae. The hatchery continues to produce urchins in support of coral restoration, and Cohen said he continues to learn about the ways in which “aquaculture can produce food, enrich our lives, and help restoremthe environment.”

An overgrowth of seaweed can block sunlight that corals need to live, making it difficult for the reef and other marine life to survive, which is why projects like these are essential.

The Hawaiian collector sea urchins, which are raised in DAR’s hatchery, are known for being natural “algae-munchers.” Raising urchins is a long process— It takes about four months for tiny larvae to grow to the size needed before being transferred to Kane‘ohe Bay.

The first step is for divers to remove mass amounts of invasive algae with an underwater vacuum that sucks the seaweed up onto a barge, and then to place juvenile sea urchins on the corals so they can eat the algae in areas that the vacuum couldn’t reach.

DAR, NOAA Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working together to clean up the reef in areas at Kane’ohe Bay since 2011.

To learn more about the aquaculture process of urchin nurseries, tune in to Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” on May 12 via Zoom. These monthly virtual events are supported by the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

The event’s emcee will be Darla Palmer-Ellingson, local radio show host of the public affairs program, Island Environment 360 Maui’s only commercially broadcast public affairs show on environmental and related Hawaiian cultural topics, aired on the stations of H-Hawaii Media.

To reserve your spot at this free Zoom webinar, please visit

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Reef in Brief

Your information will never be shared. We promise!
Translate »