California’s coast has seen a significant decline in sea stars since 2013 due to a marine virus in the area. This decrease in sea stars, a predator of urchins, has allowed urchin populations to flourish in some northern areas; however, in southern areas, urchins have been declining. It is suspected that the urchins decline in the south may be due to spread of the sea star virus. In the north, where the urchin populations are growing, otters are their only other predator. Unfortunately, although otter populations are doing well, only about 10% of otters specialize in eating urchins. This means that the urchins may soon be taking over the kelp forests in the area that support a rich abundance of sea life. Without the kelp, biodiversity in the area may be drastically impacted.
News Blurb: As Sea Stars Die, New Worries About Urchins