Sea Urchin | Hawaiian Marine Life

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Sea Urchin

Frequently observed by snorkelers and divers, sea urchins are abundant in the Hawaiian Islands. These echinoderms are closely related to sea stars and sea cucumbers and use tube feet that extend through their pores to help cling and move along surfaces. They are characterized by a globular or flattened skeleton, called a test, and have hundreds of moveable spines, tube feet, and tiny pincer-like organs called pedicellariae.

 

Spines on sea urchins vary between species and serve as a form of protection from various predators. Some have long, sharp spines, others have massive blunt spines, and some species even have venomous spines. The long-spined urchin, or wana in Hawaiian, is one of the venomous species and can inject a painful sting. The pain usually settles within a few hours, but the spines will remain inside for extended periods, with your body eventually absorbing them with no potential danger.

 

Sea urchin reproduction happens through spawning, where male and female urchins will simultaneously release eggs and sperm into the water. Fertilized eggs then hatch into larvae that drift in the planktonic stage and later settle as bottom dwellers. Sea urchins generally graze on algae, and their mouths are located on the underside of the animal.

 

*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, we cannot guarantee the presence of any specific animal.

Did you know?

In old Hawaiʻi, sea urchin spines were used for carving and were a food source since the creature's gonads were considered a delicacy for many. Those who had an urchin appear in a dream or vision held these animals as having a special meaning. Roughly 75 known species inhabit the Hawaiian waters, and 22 more commonly inhabit shallow waters. Hawaiian Name: wana / ‘ina / hāwae / haukèke Where to See: Living Reef, Tide Pool* SHARE WITH FRIENDS

Hawaiian Name: wana / ‘ina / hāwae / haukèke
Where to See: Living Reef, Tide Pool*

share with friends

Discover More Maui Ocean Center marine life

Broad Stingray

The broad stingray is found only in Hawaiʻi and Taiwan. Most researchers agree their populations are plentiful. They are one of four species known to inhabit Hawaiian waters that belong to the suborder elasmobranchs (cartilaginous fishes including sharks, skates, and rays).

Whitetip Reef Shark

The whitetip reef shark is found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is associated with the coral reef environment. In the Hawaiian Islands, they can be observed resting in caves or under ledges since they are the only shark in Hawaiian waters with the ability to stop swimming and rest for long periods at a time, making them more commonly observed by divers. These sharks are gray in coloration and have slightly flat heads with distinct white tips on the tops of the first and second dorsal and tail fins.

Cone Snail

The cone snail is one of the largest marine snail families represented in the Hawaiian Islands. Displaying beautiful patterns and colors, they are quite popular with collectors. They are typically active at night, and many spend a great deal of time buried under sand or hiding under plate corals. Cone snail habitats vary for different species; some prefer mangroves or sandy banks, while others prefer much deeper waters to search for other snails and fish. Hawaiʻi has 34 species of cones, with a few species being endemic to the islands.