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Nov 10 2011

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Nature Niche: Sea Urchin’s Pearly Whites

By SCARLET COLLEY
Special to the Parade

Nature Niche pic-11-10-11Some of you may look at this photo and know right away what it is, and some of you may wonder what is that a mouth of? Look at those pearly whites.

There are only five of them but they are strong and they are very white. It is the mouth of the sea urchin that lives around here. They come in colors of deep brown and deep purple. I would say we definitely have a plethora of these sea urchins. They like structure in their lives so they can be found around almost anywhere.

It is their nature niche.

They have pointy spines that have nailed many of us who have been around the jetty. Those spines are like needles, and they break off once they have punctured your foot, hand, or any other part of you that becomes impaled by a brush with this spiny urchin.

What is really cool is the urchin also has suction cups on the ends of thread, like arms located in between their spines. These help to secure the animal to the rocks or structure they are on. They eat a variety of food sources off the structures they inhabit and they can even carve away at granite rock, that’s where we see them in holes they have dug themselves into at the jetty.

At the SeaLife center, our urchins eat shrimp and flake fish food. It is amazing to watch their mouth open and close as they slowly move across the glass of their aquarium munching away at feeding time. Come watch all the creatures feed daily at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. and meet the wonderful and diverse life that inhabits the waters of this area. We’re located on 110 N. Garcia by the Lighthouse Square, and remember the birding festival is going on this week to. Look at Rio Grande Birding Festival online. Some of The Big Year stars will be there.

What is your nature niche?

Permanent link to this article: http://portisabelsouthpadre.com/2011/11/10/nature-niche-sea-urchins-pearly-whites/

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