Sunflower sea star breeding to increase kelp forest

The scientists in the United States are breeding the Sunflower sea stars off coast of Washington State.

Background

  • Between 2013 and 2017, warming of oceans killed 5.75 billion sunflower sea stars.
  • Around 91% of the world sunflower sea stars are found between the sea waters of Mexico and Alaska.
  • The scientists believe that reviving the Sunflower sea star will help in reviving kelp forests.

What happened to the Kelp Forests?

The Sunflower sea stars were once found in the ocean floor in the north east Pacific. They mainly fed on purple urchins. The Sunflower sea stars are extinct in California and are near extinction in other parts of the ocean. Thus, the purple urchins increased in number. The purple urchins mainly fed on sea weeds. As their population increased, they started consuming more and more sea weeds. This was disastrous to the other marine species such as Abalone that depend on sea weeds.

Bottomline, the kelp forest cover fell by more than 95% since 2014.

Inference

The near extinction of just one species has such huge impact on the ecosystem. It is simply wiping out the eco system.

Thus, the plan of repopulating the sunflower sea star has been adopted. This plan is being referred to as the “Jurassic Plan Approach”.

About sunflower Sea Star

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has listed the Sunflower sea star as Critically Endangered
  • It is one of the largest sea stars in the world.
  • They have twenty-four limbs.

Kelp Forest

The Kelp forest are under water areas with high density of kelp. It covers large part of the world coastline. Also, they are considered as the most productive and dynamic ecosystem on the earth.

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