I only collect SEA URCHINS that are in the high and dry wrack line on the beach – they are never damp so I know for sure they aren’t alive. I love the ones that have already lost their spines and have a big empty hole in the center since most of the cleaning has already done by Mother Nature. But if Mother Nature hasn’t had time to do our cleaning for us, we have a couple of options.
First option- leave your SEA URCHINS outside in the sun for several weeks and let the spines fall off and shake the “crumbs” from the inside. Easy peazy but it takes a while.
If the spines of your dry URCHINS don’t come off by gently rubbing your fingers against the test (body), place your SEA URCHINS in a bucket of water for a couple of hours. Take one out at a time and pinch and rub the spines off. Use a brush if you want or wear rubber gloves if you have tender skin.
While handling your URCHINS, sometimes you will hear the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN (the mouth) inside the URCHIN so if you remove all of the “skin” or fleshy parts around the center mouth with a dental pick, you can usually pull or shake the dried pieces of mouth (or jaw) out of the URCHIN. If you are lucky, the whole piece will come out in tact. If the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN comes out in one piece, I save it – don’t ask me why, I just think they are cool (? heehee).
Once the SEA URCHINS are spineless and hollow, place them in a bleach water solution. I used about 1/8 bleach to water. In this plastic shoebox size container, I used 3 capfuls of beach.
After an hour or so, rinse them in fresh water then leave them out in the sun to dry. The URCHINS get even more brittle if you leave them in the bleach solution for too long but I do leave some in a little longer so that they will be a lighter shade that the others. I like the different colors!
Once they are clean and dry, you will probably want to harden and preserve your SEA URCHINS. Mix a solution of Elmer’s glue with water. I guesstimate about 50/50 but I don’t worry too much if I have more glue than water- it always seems to work out. You can either be neat and paint the glue solution on your URCHINS or you can dunk. I prefer pouring the glue solution inside the URCHIN then dunking the whole thing in the glue cup then spreading it with my hands (I’m messy like that!). I place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on my tray then let the glue covered SEA URCHIN dry.
Still have questions? Check out the video tutorial I made to show you each step of the process. CLICK HERE to see it on my YouTube Channel or click on the next image.
This is what the finished SEA URCHINS look like. There are several different types of SEA URCHINS from Sanibel so each one tends to be a little different. Beautiful!
PS- Never take live SEA URCHINS. If you dont know how to tell if they are still alive CLICK HERE.
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All along Sanibel’s shore this week, SEA URCHINS have washed up on the beach (along with all sorts of other cool things!) after strong winds last week.
Have you ever seen the inside of a SEA URCHIN? This one had been crushed (and decayed) but the only thing that happen to be still in tact was its mouth laying on the beach. When we see just this part of a SEA URCHIN we call it the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN.
We don’t see the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN laying alone on the beach completely in tact very often since each part of the mouth like the five teeth that it using for chewing will get very brittle and fall apart after it dries out. In the next photo, on the left you can see the crushed TEST (the shell-like part) exposes the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN and the one on the right has only a small part of the center mouth showing because its TEST is completely in tact.
You can see the teeth showing in this SEA URCHIN (this is the opposite end of ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN thats showing in the previous photo)..
This next photo is what it looks like completely out of the SEA URCHIN. The bottom part is where the teeth come out (like in the above photo) and the top end is what’s showing in the example of the one laying on the beach (on the left) two photos up. See? It sure does look like a little lantern to me… and it even has a little candle on the top- heehee.
Cool, huh? There are so many awesome things that wash up on our beaches!!!
Can you tell if a SEA URCHIN is alive or not? Watch my video to show the difference…
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