SITE LOCATION: Pungo River or Yorktown Formation, Aurora, Beaufort Co., North Carolina, USA
Data: Sea urchins or urchins, archaically called sea hedgehogs, are small, spiny, globular animals that, with their close kin, such as sand dollars, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. Sea urchins have globe- to flattened-shaped bodies covered with spines. They are non-aggressive marine animals found all over the world. They live in shallow, rocky bottoms, or hide in sandy cervices. Human contact with sea urchins is either accidental or intentional. People accidentally step on them in shallow surf, or intentionally pick up the urchins, unaware that they must handle the spines with care to avoid injury. Sea urchins have two types of venomous organs - spines and pedicellaria. Spines produce puncture wounds. Pedicellaria are small, delicate seizing organs that lie between the spines and release venom when they attach to an object. A puncture injury from a sea urchin can cause swelling and redness around the area, which may lead to severe pain and infection. Multiple deep puncture wounds may cause fatigue, weakness, muscle aches, shock, paralysis, and respiratory failure. Death may occur.