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Red Sea Urchin

By Tessa

Red Sea Urchin

This photo of a sea urchin was sent in by Raewyn Adams.   She found it in Spirits Bay in Northland and wondered if we could identify it as it does not appear to be the urchin pictured in the NZ Seashore ID guide.

We checked NIWA's "Extraordinary Echinoderm" Guide but could not find this one described there.  However we think it might be Centrostephanus rodgersii, an Australian species.  We have sent the photo to the the Otago University echinoderm expert to confirm the ID. 

Has anyone else seen these sea urchins in New Zealand waters?  Please let us know if you have.

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It appears the urchin is almost certainly Heliocidaris tuberculata which is common in central Eastern and South Eastern Australia, but also found in the Kermadecs and Northern New Zealand.  (The species we first suggested it might be - Centrostephanus rodgersii - has longer, finer spines and it less robust-looking.) 

Heliocidaris tuberculata is found from the tidal zone down to a depth of 54 m.  It is adapted to withstand extreme wave surge, having a solid test, thick spines and large number of tube feet.  The test may reach a diameter of 115 mm.

By Tessa

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