Monday, June 18, 2012

Not So Extinct Sea Urchin

Some scientists believe that the collector sea urchin (Tripneustes gratilla) is extinct on Saipan due to over collection.  Imagine my surprise to find one after more than 7 years!  Well, it may very well be extinct now since I made this one into a yummy sea urchin sashimi or uni!  Yummy!  

Just kidding!  But all jokes aside, I was very happy to find that there is still a population of collector urchins  hanging on to existence in the CNMI. Someone told me that people used to collect them by the buckets in the 1980s through the 1990s.  These urchins have short spines and they have a habit of "collecting" bits of shells, sea grass and algae that camouflages them from predators.  I still don't have an underwater camera so I had to briefly bring this one above water for a picture.  I tasted another type of sea urchin a long time ago on Guam when my dad popped one open and squeezed some lemon in it.  I remember it tasting like lemony sand.

I also found a live tulip cone snail (Conus tulipa).  Out of all the cone snails, this one resembles the deadly geography cone (C. geographus) the most, so there is speculation that it is just as deadly.  Cone snails use a harpoon-like tooth to inject their prey with venom and handling them can prove to be deadly.  So my advice: Hands off!  Check out this link that my friend Doug wrote that has video of a geography cone snail.

Thanks for talking stories with me again.  Take care, friends.

Ti napu.
The Beachcomber