Divers remove sea urchins to restore kelp forest in San Pedro during NFL Green Week

Kelp is not only a habitat for animals to live in, but it serves as food too," said Katie Blessing.
SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KABC) -- Before the Super Bowl kicks off in Los Angeles this February, the NFL environmental program is cleaning up the community.

NFL Green and the Los Angeles Super Bowl Host Committee teamed up with Pepsi Stronger Together, Force Blue, The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and scientists from the Bay Foundation to clean up Cabrillo Beach and restore a kelp forest.

"Kelp is not only a habitat for animals to live in, but it serves as food too. Kelp can detach and float into the deep sea or onto the beach and serve as a wonderful food source for animals all across the ocean," said Katie Blessing, a marine programs aquarist technician.

The divers doing the work are with Force Blue.

"Force blue is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that retrains and redeploys special operations veterans, navy seals, green berets, air force rescue, marine force recon individuals, to continue their mission for caring for our marine environment all around the world," said Steve Gonzalez, special projects and events director for Force Blue.

Divers removed thousands of purple sea urchins which harm kelp. Their goal is to help kelp flourish and create plots of it, stretching the size of a football field.

"I spent 25 years in special operations and coming out of that environment, which is so surreal to be able to replace that with things, and taking the skills I learned for decades and actually applying that to marine conservation, it's wonderful. It's kind of like a way forward after decades of service," said Roger Sparks, a Force Blue diver.

While divers worked underwater, a group of Environmental Charter Middle School students cleaned up Cabrillo Beach.

Los Angeles Chargers linebacker, Uchenna Nwosa, joined them.

"You know to just be out here in the community, I've always been a big community guy and any way I can give back to the community, I'm all for it," Nwosa said.

NFL Green Week will also consist of planting trees, community garden projects, and getting books, school supplies and sports equipment to low income kids in Los Angeles.

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