The 2024 Urchin Fest begins June 7 in Mendocino with restaurant specialties and events

Fans of those spiky petards from the deep sea – whether because they’re so delicious or because they appear so strange – should head to Mendocino this weekend or next to participate within the third annual The Purple Urchin Festival.

The festival begins June 7 and runs through June 16 and includes nature walks, a harbor cruise on fishing boats, a “sea urchin ranch” and lots of restaurant specialties, including one that mixes high-quality Japanese whiskey with creamy uni.

Purple sea urchins are ubiquitous off the coast of Northern California. When their numbers get uncontrolled, they will pose a serious threat to the kelp forests they like to feed on. Otherwise, they could be a tasty accompaniment to every thing from pasta to toast to sushi. (Or a nuisance—sometimes literally—if you happen to occur to come back across one within the water.)

All details might be found at Urchinfest.combut here’s a short list of what is occurring on this site and Note that some events are free, but others require tickets or fees:

eighth June:

“Take a kelp walk at low tide in MacKerricher State Park with Josie Iselin, Larry Knowles and Julie Drucker. These artist-teachers will share their knowledge and experience in kelp gathering and give you an in-depth understanding of the delicate intertidal ecosystem. Sign up for this morning walk from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.” Details: Capacity: 25. Fee: $35 (includes afternoon Seaweed Science Social).

8 + 9 June

“DIVE INTO SCIENCE WITH REEF CHECK. Reef Check trains scientific citizen divers to conduct long-term monitoring surveys of kelp forests. Join us on June 8th and 9th at Caspar Beach to see our team at work! We will also be working with our recent Dive into Science Open Water graduates to offer them pro dives so they can continue their education and become Reef Check divers! Come chat with us and our volunteers! Our divers are happy to discuss all things kelp and how you can get involved with Reef Check. No registration is required – just come and see us in action!” Details: 9am-2pm at Caspar State Beach.

fifteenth June:

“URCHIN RANCH OPEN HOUSE. Visit the Noyo Center Marine Field Station in Noyo Harbor and learn about the organization's land-based sea urchin aquaculture system or sea urchin ranch. While there, view the underwater photo and video installation featuring the work of Abbey Dias and Patrick Webster, sample wild and farmed uni, and learn about the fascinating purple sea urchin from Noyo Center educators.” Details: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Noyo Center Marine Field Station, 32430 N. Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg. Donations are welcome.

“Learn about fine Japanese whiskey from expert Jonathan Darrow as he pairs whiskeys with a multi-course, one-page menu prepared by Little River Inn's executive chefs Joe Perez and Marc Dym. Make it a true getaway with a two-night stay at the always delightful Little River Inn.”

June 16:

“Join Noyo Harbor staff on a walking tour of Noyo Harbor from 10 a.m. to noon. Learn about the various fisheries and vessels that operate out of the marina and how a healthy kelp forest is related to healthy fisheries and therefore healthy communities.” Details: 10 a.m. to noon at Noyo Harbor High Dock.


“UNI ADVENTURE. A number of Mendocino restaurants are offering special university menus during this time, from baked university oysters to salmon with champagne and sea urchin beurre blanc; various prices. Grab a seat at Harbor House Inn, Inn at Newport Ranch, KW Saltwater Café, Noyo Harbor Inn, Izakaya Gama, SIBO and Wickson Restaurant.”

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