Citizen Science

Dockside purple urchin data collection for the Help the Kelp project

We live in a coastal environment reliant on our local ocean resources, whether for our job, our dinner, our vacation, or our enjoyment. To turn the current bull kelp loss crisis around, we will need the support of everyone, including assistance with dockside sampling of purple urchin.  Visit our Help the Kelp information page for details on the kelp restoration efforts.

Get involved.  Volunteer with the Noyo Center and specify on your form that you are interested in becoming part of our dockside sampling team.  Our urchin sampling volunteer coordinator will contact you and let you with details on how you can become involved in this important work.

Below is an example of data collection for purple urchin.  We may collect data from commercial dives, as shown above or during a recreational collection event.

Purple Urchin Sampling Instructions Example

Count 1000/Weigh OR Measure 1000/Count/Weigh

To get a mixed sample of sizes, work down one corner of the bin, taking all urchins in that area regardless of size and place in separate bin. If there are multiple groups, each group should take a corner.  Remove just the bycatch in proximity to the urchins being measured and place in a separate bin for measuring at the end. Red urchins are measured separately; the remaining bycatch can be weighed together.  Describe the type of bycatch in the notes section, with the dominant type first.

Recording measurements: State the measurement of widest part of urchin clearly for the recorder in millimeters as two numbers, e.g., “four five” for 45.  The recording form contains spaces for 1000 urchins.  Each recorder should have a unique set of numbers, so divide up the multiple page form evenly between the recorders. Repeat the number back to the measurer for each urchin. 

Gonad Examination: Select 10 urchins of 50 mm or larger.  Measure each and record the size on the form (as below) and on the white board.  Include the photo ID, removal date and location on the white board.  Break open the urchin with the cracking tool.  Remove as much of the black intestine tissue as possible to reveal the gonads. Place on the white board, photograph and record on form with any appropriate notes.


Each volunteer should be asked to bring: gloves, and to wear waterproof shoes or boots