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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sea Things #36: Collector Urchins

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

I'm a little behind in my Sea Things posts, so there will be several coming up soon. I will ask this though - many of my posts have to do with running, and I get a lot of running readers. Not so much the scuba divers. These Sea Things posts were meant to be interesting things for divers and others that are maybe interested in diving or underwater adventures. I'm going to keep them up, but I'm wondering if people are enjoying them? Are you reading? Do you like finding out interesting information about underwater creatures and things, and my adventures in finding them? Please comment and let me know.

Anyway, on to today's Sea Thing. The photo above is a Collector Urchin (Tripneustes gratilla). They're all over the place in Hawaii (as you can see in the next photo down). They're pretty much found all over the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea.

Basically, what these guys do is collect things (hence, the name). They get little shells and pieces of coral and sand or whatever they find around, and pull it on top of themselves in order to disguise themselves during the day. I guess the thought is that whatever predator may be swimming above will be fooled and think that this is not an urchin or food, but in fact debris on the bottom. I guess this strategy has worked for them, since natural selection seems to have created this behavior, but I have to admit, I was never once fooled by a collector urchin. I've seen far better examples of camouflage underwater before.

I admit, it's hard to think of these little things even moving. I guess they move at a slow rate, I certainly have never seen one in motion, or look like anything other than a pin cushion. They eat algae and sea grass, and they hurt if you touch them.

The urchins will even collect things other than seashells, as shown below with this little guy. We saw him on the reef with a woman's hair band on top of him. Again, not fooling anybody. It did look like a cute little halo, though.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

i enjoy reading sea things.

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