How to Preserve a Sea Urchin Shell

Written by china zmuida
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How to Preserve a Sea Urchin Shell
Preserving a sea urchin requires patience. (sea urchin image by Edsweb from Fotolia.com)

Sea urchins belong to the phylum Echinodermata. Echinoderms are identified by their spiny skin. Sea urchins have ossicles, or bony plates, which make up the urchin's internal skeleton. Cleaning and preserving an urchin can be time consuming. You'll need to take care in cleaning of your sea urchin, since the shell is delicate and you can easily break it.

How to Preserve a Sea Urchin Shell
Completely cover your urchin with alcohol. (bucket close up image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)

Soak your urchin in a bucket filled with alcohol, as suggested by Shell Outlet. Soak the shell for two days, and allow the sun to dry the urchin for a few weeks.

Put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands. Using a scrub brush, gently brush off your urchin's spines.

Locate the underside of the urchin. There will be a small opening. Insert a dental pick within the opening, and remove dead tissue.

How to Preserve a Sea Urchin Shell
Finish cleaning your urchin. (famille d'oursin image by Sébastien Goetschmann from Fotolia.com)

Clean the urchin shell in a solution of bleach and water. Combine four cups of bleach with four cups of water. Scrub the urchin with the solution, which will also help remove any remaining odour from the shell. Dry the shell.

How to Preserve a Sea Urchin Shell
Complete the preservation process. (glue bottle image by Bruce MacQueen from Fotolia.com)

Coat your shell with a clear nail polish, as suggested by Shell Outlet. Alternatively, you can coat the shell with watered down glue.

Tip

Don't take live specimens for your collection. A live urchin can move its spines, and will have a vibrant colour. You can use mineral oil to coat the exterior of the urchin, which will give the shell a nice sheen.

Warning

Never collect sea urchins in protected beach areas. The ecological system can become imbalanced if you remove urchins from protected areas. Don't remove an urchin shell if you notice an egg pouch underneath it. This urchin is still alive.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't take live specimens for your collection. A live urchin can move its spines, and will have a vibrant colour.
  • You can use mineral oil to coat the exterior of the urchin, which will give the shell a nice sheen.
  • Never collect sea urchins in protected beach areas. The ecological system can become imbalanced if you remove urchins from protected areas.
  • Don't remove an urchin shell if you notice an egg pouch underneath it. This urchin is still alive.
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