Wild Fact #197 – Deep Sea Oddities – Sea Urchin

Photo by Marco Busdraghi

I hope all of you are wearing your swim trunks today because we are going to play in the deep blue sea.  The good news is, you can pretty much go to the nearest ocean and find today’s animal, the Sea Urchin.  Unfortunately, I will need to head south since they aren’t typically found this far north (and there are no oceans around here).  When you are out splashing around in the ocean take a look around because you may just find a Sea Urchin.  They can be found in shallow or deep waters and they usually hang out around coral reefs.  One more reason to explore the amazing coral reefs.

So what exactly is a Sea Urchin?  Well, they are typically small, globular and spiny, however, this description may not be incredibly accurate since there are over 200 species of Sea Urchin. With that many species, you can imagine that they come in various shapes, sizes and colours.  For example some may be spiny while others have a hard shell.  I guess you could say Sea Urchins are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.

Sea Urchins are definitely built differently than most other animals on our planet.  For starters they have five paired rows of little tube feet, which are usually found among their protective spines.  Not only do the feet of the Sea Urchin help them move but the “suckers” on their feet help them catch their prey as well as keep them attached to the ocean floor.  Not only do their spines conceal these awesome tube feet but they also hide these nifty little  claw-like structures.  These little “claws”, also called pedicellarines, offer additional protection for the Sea Urchin as they are capable of stinging would-be predators.  These stingers are also useful in obtaining food and ensuring the Sea Urchin stays clean.

Photo by David Monniaux (Wikicommons)

The odd anatomy doesn’t stop there.  The mouth of the Sea Urchin which is also known as “Aristotles Lantern” can actually be found in the middle of this animal’s underside.  It seems like a weird place to put a mouth but what do I know?  Like other echinoderms the Sea Urchin doesn’t actually have a brain and just relies on their water vascular systems, which basically works like are circulatory system.  Well it works a little differently but you get the idea.

Sea Urchin Fast Fact – The Red Sea Urchin is among the longest living creatures on earth.  They have been known to get as old as 200 years.  Not too shabby for an animal without a brain.

 

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