About the Purple Sea Urchin
A purple sea urchin's pin cushion appearance comes from its round inner shell, called a test. Attached to the test are suckered, tentacle-like appendages, known as ‘tube feet’, which are used in locomotion, feeding and respiration. The urchin eats brown and green algae and decayed matter. The Purple Sea Urchin can reach up to 3 inches across. As with other sea urchin species the mouth is located underneath the body.
Location & Habitat
They range from Vancouver Island to Isla Cedra, Baja California. The purple sea urchin inhabits exposed rocky shores in the intertidal zone, usually along open coastlines in shallow waters and tide pools, down to depths of 160 metres. It is found on the sea bed, typically occupying areas that experience strong wave action. In places where the rock is suitably soft, the purple sea urchin may hollow out and inhabit small pits, or cavities.
Ocean acidification is growing to be one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems, and studies have demonstrated that the increasing acidity of seawater is likely to have a detrimental effect on the growth and development of many marine species, including the purple sea urchin.
- The Purple Sea Urchin is harvested and exported to Japan, where it is considered a delicacy
- The purple sea urchin spawns seasonally, usually during winter and early spring
- Predators of the purple sea urchin, including the sea otter, spiny lobster, sea star and the California sheephead
- Sea Urchin is commonly found in sushi