Photo by Nick Hobgood
We all knew it was coming. Time for summer to end and school to begin. In honor of the school days starting up, our creature of the week is one that you would think might get an A in preparedness for taking notes. This week our creature is the Slate Pencil Urchin!
The slate pencil sea urchin is a type of sea urchin as the name suggests. These sea urchins though do not have thin spines that will hurt you. In fact, these sea urchins, and pencil urchins in general, have thicker spines that are blunt ended. This pencil urchin is red brown in body color, while the spines themselves are generally lighter brown, darker brown, or even white! 3 The spines usually have algae growing on them. 1 Generally they are a little over 2 inches in diameter, with their spines being just as long. 3
These creatures are generally found in tropical areas. Their distribution includes the east coast of the United States from North Carolina, through the Caribbean, and down to Brazil. 2 Slate Pencil Urchins are found among the reefs and rubble, from 0 to 160 + feet.2 Their diet likewise consists of corals and sponges primarily. 1
Slate Pencil Urchins can take up to two years to reach sexual maturity. 2 Once they have, generally spawning occurs at night and is lunar-based. 2 There has been evidence that the spawning is also seasonally based, but the actual season of spawning depends on the region the species is in. 1
Be sure to read more about this interesting invertebrate at the following sites: