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Sea urchin lifestyle and appearance

Many beautiful and interesting animals live in the sea and ocean depths. One of the most mysterious representatives of the deep ichthyofauna is the sea urchin.

Man knows more than 900 species of these echinoderms, which can differ not only in appearance, but also in lifestyle.

Today, science knows more than 900 species of sea urchins.

Sea urchins live only in warm waters with high salinity levels and are never found in fresh water. The bottom of all oceans is inhabited by various species of these animals. The largest populations inhabit:

  • in the Indian Ocean;
  • in the Caribbean;
  • on the east coast of Australia washed by the Pacific Ocean;
  • in the waters of the Hawaiian Islands.

Echinoderm colonies can be found both at the insignificant depths in the area of ​​underwater cliffs and on deep-water reefs. In the shallow sea bays, as a rule, there are “spikes” with a spherical body shape.

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Species with a flat body live at more significant depths. These creatures have never been seen in the basins of the Black and Caspian seas, as the salinity level in these water bodies is extremely low.

Occasionally, individual echinoderms occur in the Baltic Sea. Since some species of sea urchins live at depths of over 6 thousand meters, much in their way of life remains a mystery.

For most people, the sea hedgehog is associated with a creature that has a huge number of sharp spines, which is not entirely true. Some species of these creatures do not have thorns at all and do not represent absolutely any danger to humans.

There are varieties whose body is covered with a mass of small needles, which are not only incapable of injuring a person, but also make the sea creature very pleasant to the touch.

Some species of sea urchins do not have thorns and do not pose any danger to humans.

Sea urchins are the most ancient animals that appeared on earth more than 500 million years ago. Their closest relatives include no less ancient creatures – starfish. Sea hedgehogs can be divided into 2 large groups – right and wrong.

These groups include another 4 super-orders consisting of 9 units. Such a variety of classification suggests that the World Ocean lives A great variety of different types of sea urchins, differing in a number of ways:

  • body shape;
  • body structure;
  • color;
  • way of life.

Unlike the starfish, there are no prominent rays on the body of the hedgehog, and the animal itself has the shape of a flat disk or ball. The group of irregular hedgehogs are creatures that have an egg-shaped or heart-shaped form.

Since the body of the animal is enclosed in a durable shell, consisting of several plates, its shape remains unchanged throughout life.

Starfish are the closest relatives of sea urchins.

The structure of the shell is always the same.. It consists of plates located along the meridians of the body. The oral opening is on the abdomen and always facing the bottom.

On the opposite side is the anus. Near the mouth opening are the outer gills and spheridia – the organs responsible for balance.

In the depths of the mouth is a chewing apparatus consisting of several plates connected by muscles. The basis of the oral apparatus – 5 paired pyramids, in which the teeth are located.

With the help of the teeth, the animal scrapes algae from hard surfaces and captures a variety of foods.

Ambulacral plates go from the mouth to the anus, each of which has several paired holes. Legs go through these holes.

The number of tiny legs on the body of one animal can be in the hundreds. Without exaggeration, we can say that sea urchins are the most multi-legged creatures on earth.

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The legs are very elastic, they can stretch and shrink. At their ends are suckers, thanks to which the hedgehog can move not only in the horizontal plane, but also climb the steep cliffs.

Suckers help securely secured to the bottom of the soil and get food even in places of strong surf.

Each of the rows of ambulacral plates ends with a small eye plate on which the eye is located. Thus, it turns out that the organs of vision of these creatures are located throughout the body.

On the surface of the shell, there are numerous bumps to which needles are attached. Thanks to the movable muscular junction, the hedgehog can turn its needles in different directions. Needles can vary in shape and length and have a different texture:

  • smooth;
  • ribbed;
  • with thorns and shoots.

On the surface of the shell of a sea urchin, there are numerous bumps to which needles are attached.

Needles are used not only to protect against potential enemies, but also to move along the bottom. Among the needles are grasping organs, which are the smallest tweezers attached to the plates with the help of muscle joints. In some species of hedgehogs, the grasping organs are equipped with poisonous heads.

Sea urchin poison is highly toxic and even a toxic substance dissolved in water can have a damaging effect on marine life. The main purpose of poisonous heads – protection from marine predators.

Coloring sea urchins can include an entire color palette. Some species can change color depending on the soil color and light.

Representatives of the wrong subclass mainly feed on small plankton. The diet of the right hedgehogs is more varied. The correct sea urchins feed on:

  • various algae;
  • ascidia;
  • shellfish;
  • bryozoans;
  • sponges;
  • different carrion.

Cannibalism is not uncommon among some species of sea urchin.

Large individuals may switch to feeding on small starfish. Among some species, cannibalism is not uncommon.

The largest members of this family, such as Strongilotrotrotus, are able to catch and eat mantis shrimp. Species that inhabit sandy soil or another soft substrate swallow bottom soil along with microscopic organisms living in it.

In the absence of food in the area of ​​the reservoir where sea urchins live, they can make significant migrations in search of food.

In nature, there are more than 900 species of animals belonging to this class. Some species are represented quite widely, while others are extremely rare. The most common are:

  • black sea urchin;
  • round;
  • Japanese;
  • slate;
  • diadem.

The black sea urchin looks most threatening, as it has one of the longest needles representing a considerable danger to humans. When a danger arises, the animal immediately directs its weapon in the direction of the likely enemy and behaves very aggressively.

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