A sea urchin is a sea animal that frequently has a spiky exterior. Some care vibrant purple, others are red, and maybe the most well-known sea urchin is white. The spikes on their body are connected to their spine where venom is present. Many people accidentally step on them in the ocean because they look similar to rocks and shells, causing them to blend in with their surroundings.
As primitive animals, sea urchins have a strong defense mechanism with their stings, which are extremely painful for most people. They're extremely common in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
How Many Species Of Sea Urchins Are There?
There are approximately 950 different species of sea urchins, which all inhabit different depths of the ocean and in various climates in different oceans around the world. Only 18 different types of sea urchins are safe and tasty to eat.
Sea urchins are omnivorous and mainly consume kelp and algae. They also feed on animal matter that is present in the ocean.
Are Sea Urchins Poisonous?
Yes, many types of sea urchins are poisonous and some can even bite. When sea urchins bite, they release venom but don't leave any spines behind compared to jellyfish.
Sea urchins can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals, which can be mild or even deadly. Those who have had allergic reactions in the past are prone to reacting more severely to sea urchin bites.
The sting of a sea urchin can cause damage to the tissue, skin, and bone, depending on its severity. Sea urchins have spines that are filled with calcium and are often painful to remove once they have contact with the skin. These spines are present to warn predators of impending danger. It's essential to remove the spine to prevent the injury from becoming more severe.
It's recommended to seek medical attention after stepping on a sea urchin for proper medical treatment. Attempting to treat the affected site without a medical professional can increase the risk of developing an infection.
The most dangerous sea urchin is the flower sea urchin which live in the Indo-West Pacific. The toxin that this type of sea urchin releases from its spine leads to respiratory issues, paralysis, and extreme pain that can be debilitating and life-threatening.
What Happens If You Step On A Sea Urchin?
If you accidentally step on a sea urchin, you'll immediately experience pain, especially if you applied force to the urchin. Swelling and redness can follow, along with an infection. If the sea urchin punctures your skin deep enough, it can lead to breathing issues and muscle aches.
It's important to immediately remove as much of the sea urchin as possible from your skin. Be careful when handling the pieces because they can break into even smaller pieces as you attempt to remove them. There may be a few smaller pieces lodged into the skin, but the body will naturally push them out over time.
Use a razor to remove all the pedicellariae and then wash the injury with soap and water to remove all the bacteria. Allow it to remain clean as it heals to avoid infections. Soaking the area in a combination of hot water and vinegar will also make it easier for the particles to come out of the skin. It will also reduce inflammation and offer pain relief.
If you notice the symptoms are only becoming more severe after a few days, immediately visit a doctor for proper treatment.
Do You Pee On A Sea Urchin Sting?
No, studies show that urine does not treat injuries caused by stepping on sea urchins. In fact, it can even make the pain more severe and uncomfortable. This will also not kill any of the bacteria that is present in the skin and can lead to an infection. Using soap and water is the best solution to ensure the site is thoroughly cleaned.
How To Eat Sea Urchin
Sea urchins are considered to be a delicacy and are enjoyed by those who favor the taste and tender texture. They're a common staple in Japanese cuisine. They are best consumed raw similar to sushi or oysters. They are often used in culinary dishes to add a unique and unexpected twist.
When eating a sea urchin, you'll want to consume the gonads, which are the reproductive organs. This is the only part of the animal that is eatable. You can expect it to have a custardy or creamy texture.
Preparing the sea urchin requires cracking the shell open by placing two spoons together into the middle of the shell. Remove the mouthpiece inside the shell, which is white and circular. Take ice cold water and scoop out the gonads with a spoon. Start from the bottom and scoop up before gently pulling it out and placing it in the water. Try to keep it in one piece.
Scoop out each gonad in the water and remove some of the dirt that is present. This will allow you to only have the eatable parts ready to eat. You can now put it in a separate bowl of cold water for more thorough cleaning and inspect it. Remove as much water as possible from the gonad before placing it in a container on a paper towel. The tongue side should be facing up, and you can place each gonad next to one another.
You can place it directly onto rice and wrap it with seaweed to enjoy sushi uni. They pair well with pickled ginger. You can also puree the gonads and combine them with a velvety sauce if you prefer to eat them cooked.