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Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest

Purple sea urchin

Purple sea urchin

(Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

The purple sea urchin is found along the coast of the eastern Pacific from British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico. It inhabits rocky tidal shores to depths of up to 525 feet. This animal is ovoid in shape with a flattened underside. It is covered with purple spines. The purple sea urchin can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures. However, levels above 79°F can be lethal.

The green color of the juvenile gradually changes to bright purple in the adult as the animal matures. This sea urchin can grow to a width of 4 inches and a height of about 1.75 inches.

Go to the touch pool of the Cold Water Quest gallery to feel the spines of the purple sea urchin.

Fun Facts

  • The purple sea urchin consumes various types of algae as well as dead organic matter.
  • The urchin can regenerate broken spines. It can grow out new teeth in about 75 days in a laboratory setting.
  • The test or shell of this urchin is a hard, thin calcareous skeleton that can shatter easily.
  • Sea urchins are an important prey item of sea otters.
  • Purple sea urchin ovaries are shipped to Japan for sushi called "uni".
  • Download full fact sheet

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