Hid­den urchins are su­perb find

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - COUNTRYFILE - by Owen Leyshon of the Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Project

ONE of the more wide­spread sea urchin species to be found on Bri­tish shores is the shore urchin, which is also named the green sea urchin and more com­monly known as the pur­ple-tipped sea urchin. This de­light­ful crea­ture has a small shell, or test, which com­prises cal­cite plates with small spikes. And if dam­aged, the spikes can re­grow. But all the spikes fall off when the crea­ture dies. The mouth is on the un­der­side of the test and the urchin grazes the rock face on al­gae and other plant ma­te­rial. Sea urchins are om­ni­vores and can also feed on a range of bar­na­cle species. The urchin moves us­ing its tubed feet, each of which ends in a sucker. The pur­ple-tipped sea urchin can be found in rock pools very close to the ex­treme low wa­ter mark and is hard to find as it is usu­ally well cam­ou­flaged. The spec­i­men pic­tured was found washed up on the shore­line af­ter some typ­i­cal win­ter weather.

If you have any ques­tions about Na­ture Notes call Owen Leyshon on 01797 367934 or visit www.rmcp.co.uk

A vi­o­let-tipped sea urchin

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