The common sea urchin (Echinus esculentus) is species of sea urchin which has a distribution throughout European waters and the wider northeastern Atlantic. They live on hard and rocky seabeds and can be found in waters down to around one thousand metres deep. The common sea urchin can grow to about 10cm across. It has a thin brittle shell, covered in small spines. Like all almost all sea urchin species the common sea urchin’s body is divided into five sections. They are omnivores which feed on seaweeds and algae, although they will also eat invertebrates which encrust onto surfaces such as barnacles. Unfortunately, habitat destruction and deep-sea trawling mean that the common sea urchin number have been reduced and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) classes the common sea urchin as Near Threatened. A further threat to sea urchin numbers is that they are collected by divers due to their attractive appearance and the collectability of their undamaged shells. The common sea urchin is edible and there is a small market for it as a source of food throughout Europe.
Share this page: