Types of Sea Urchins in the Caribbean

Written by michael e carpenter
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Types of Sea Urchins in the Caribbean
Sea urchin spines protect the animal from attack by predators. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Sea urchins fall into the category of echinoderms which include starfish, sand dollars and sponges. Echinoderm translates to "spiny skin," which describes most sea urchins very well. The sea urchins of the Caribbean play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the coral reefs in the area by consuming the algae on the corals. If the algae isn't removed, the corals can smother and die.

Long-Spined Sea Urchin

The long-spined sea urchin, or Diadema antillarum, also called a "regular urchin," is typically black and has long spikes protruding from its body. This urchin can be found in reef environments in the Caribbean, around Florida and in the Bahamas. The long-spined urchins eat macroalgae from reef systems. Stepping on a long-spined sea urchin can cause painful puncture wounds, according to the The Cephalopod Page.

Reef Urchin

The reef urchin, whose scientific name is Echinometra viridis, lives in the Caribbean, Bahamas and South Florida. The reef urchin has a red body with light brown spikes covering it. Reef urchins can live in water up to 130 feet deep, according to the Reef Guide website. The urchin consumes algae and typically lives on reefs or rocky areas, according to the Smithsonian website.

Rock-Boring Urchin

The rock-boring urchin, or Echinometra lucunter, gets its name because the animal bores its way into rocks and crevices using its teeth, according to Seasky website. The urchin comes in an array of colours including brown, red and black and grows to about 2 inches in diameter. The spikes of the boring urchin are about 3/4 of an inch long. Boring urchins are found throughout the Caribbean, Florida and Bahamas.

West Indian Sea Egg Urchin

The West Indian Sea Egg urchin, or Tripneustes ventricosus, grows to about 4 to 5 inches in diameter. The West Indian Sea Egg is known for its size, black body and bright white spikes. The urchin is found in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida around reefs. The urchin typically lives at water depths up to 30 feet, according to Reef Guide.

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