As part of a project to raise awareness for environmental protection, CNN has created a series of articles on various topics.
Algae is not the first thing that comes to most of us when we think of California’s beautiful beaches. But beneath surfboards off the famous ocean shores of the western United States, nutrient-rich water is home to the world’s largest marine plants. Giant algae that store about 173 million tons of carbon annually worldwide – equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 160 carbon power plants. The tremendous acceleration not only helps to fight climate change, it is essential for balancing the biological system environment and many species of animals that live in this underwater rainforest. But now researchers are identifying a problem: the algae forest is in danger. The changes in temperatures have disrupted the life system around the algae and huge armies of purple hedgehogs are destroying the algae forest and threatening the rich marine life, the algae and the ability of the ocean to help fight climate change.
A special documentary as part of CNN’s Call to Earth series shows and explains how the Army of Purple Hedgehogs is destroying algae forests in California. The film describes the process as an “ocean disaster” and presents it as one example of the impact that global warming has not only on the health of the ocean and marine life within it, but also on its ability to absorb carbon and help regulate climate change. According to the film the rise in water temperatures helped spread a disease that destroyed the population of giant starfish that lived among the algae. Without this hungry predator around, purple sea urchins have spread freely and are now celebrating in the algae forests. The purple hedgehogs have transformed the ecosystems of the algae-rich algae forest of hedgehogs.
Tom Dempsey, director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Ocean Program, describes the “zombie situation” that purple hedgehogs enter after the elimination of algae – their main food. “These hedgehogs can survive in a starving state by lowering their metabolic rate. They live like this for up to 50 years on the algae, on the rocks, on the seabed,” he says. “In this situation, when their interior has shrunk to almost nothing, starving hedgehogs have no commercial value to divers and have no nutritional value to other predators, they are ignored and they take over more and more algae.”
The race to save the algae forests has been launched, driven by a coalition of researchers, nonprofits, divers and others who have found solutions to rebalance the ecosystem before it’s too late. CNN’s documentary Call to Earth follows local divers killing sea urchins. This violent elimination, they helped rehabilitate 57 acres of algae forest in the area. Algae that did not exist in 2014. It’s like a magical cathedral, “she says.
CNN, which joins the protagonists of the struggle, claims that despite the frightening scale of the damage to these underwater forests, everyone involved in the restoration efforts remains hopeful. Due in part to the incredible ability of the accelerator to recover. Dempsey tells CNN, “It can be really hard to look at it all without a deep sense of sadness, but it’s something we can resolve.” “If we harness innovation, science and technology and other solutions from the markets that are close to us and target them for this great conservation challenge, we can do it. We can see it happening in our lives and it will be a huge achievement.”