Purple Sea Urchin
|More Ocean Resources
On a clear, sunny coastal day, the purple spines of the Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) can be easy to spot in the inter-tidal zone.
Most of the time, sea urchins are stationary animals that attach themselves to a rock or other hard substrate in order to scrape off and consume the algae. They can also be found in deeper water, often around kelp beds, one of their favorite meals.
Sea Urchin bodies, formally called tests, are round and covered by a hard shell. Like other Echinoderms such as Sea Stars, their mouth is on the bottom of the body. The spines are used as a defense mechanism, and while some sea urchin species are known to be poisonous to humans, the purple sea urchin is not considered poisonous.
Both people and ocean animals such as sea otters and sea stars consider sea urchins a delicacy.
© 2010 Patricia A. Michaels