Whoo Hoo Everyone!
I have been so busy paddling and enjoying life,that its been awhile since I have done a post!! Sorry. Well I’m gonna jump right in then.
The other night Jeff and I went paddling for about 3 hours in the dark just for a new perspective on familiar waters. Boy was it an eye opening experience to say the least!! As we were paddling we happened upon an area of shallows and seagrass beds right off the Veterans Park,an area we paddle all the time. As we sat there observing life on the flats at night,Jeff discovered a creature that we never knew existed in these very well known waters. The SEA URCHIN!!!! I am a native of Florida and have seen the sun bleached shells on our beaches my whole life but had never ran into a living one, let alone hundreds like we did on Wednesday night!!
We were holding and touching them, it was only after we got back, I discovered they can stick you and inject poison! Although not life threatening,(for most people) they will give you a painful punture site for days to come! Fortunately for both Jeff and I, we handled them very carefully and we had no problems!
So after our really cool find; I decided to do some research on our spiny little friends! Check out what I found out: Sea Urchins are Echinoderms, this means they are related to Sea Stars(starfish) and Sand Dollars. The word urchin is olde english for Hedgehog or hedgehog like. They are nocturnal(why we saw them at night in such big grouping)and feed on bits of animal,plant,algae and seaweed. They get as big as 4″ in dia. & like Sea Stars can regenerate broken spines( which gives hope to us amputee paddlers-HA HA HA!!!!) They have 5 teeth that they use to scrape off food from rocks and the seagrasses. These teeth continually grow throughout the urchins lifetime. They also have suction feet called Pedicellaria that they use to grab bits of refuse and attach it to themselves as a means of camoflage and self defense as the sucker feet also can inject a mild amount of stinging toxin.
There are more than 700 different species of Sea Urchins in the world and they are found in waters all over the world-warm and cold! They come in colors ranging from black,red,brown,purple,pink and sometimes green. But the species that lives in warm water cannot change to cold and vice-versa. They have only 3 main predators- Sea Otters, Sea Stars, & Humans. The eggs or rowe have increased in popularity(Caviar) over the last few years especially with humans!!!! They are a very important part of the eco-system for the animals they feed, but can also be very destructive to coral reefs and ecosystems if their numbers become to great- Natures’ little balancing act!!!!
Well I hope everyone has enjoyed this little bit of info, remember to keep your eyes and mind WIDE OPEN for lifes little treasures.To me this is certainly a new respect for the little things- that as cool as they may be can also give quite a wake-up call should you tread on one!!!! WATCH WHERE YOU PUT YOUR HANDS AND FEET!! In a later post I’ll talk about Marine First Aid for bites and stings!!
Happy Paddling and Mahalo to King Neptune Mother Nature!!
Sea Turtle Sean
- Kayaking at night posts…