East Divers Tioman

An indulgence with nature for family and divers...

Sea-Urchin, Enemy or Economic Goldmine?

Divers hate them, scientist see potential in them and food lovers just cannot have enough of them...

Sea Urchin, considered a nuisance to the coral systems, have the potential to threatens the beauty and safety of any dive sites but not many divers knows that it also possess economic potential to many industry.

This article, describes in brief the characteristic, danger and value of Sea Urchins.

Sea-Urchin (Echinoidea) is a marine animal which is round, prickly, and live in the ocean anywhere in the world. You can find sea urchins in various dive site in Tioman Island like Renggis Island and even the house reefs. While much have been said by fellow divers of the nuisance and danger that sea urchins brings, not many knows about its potential economic values that sea urchins brings to industry like medicine and food industry. In Malay language, sea urchins is also known as bulu babi or landak laut.

They exist in various color like black, green, brown, purple, and red. Their main food is algae (algae). The eggs (sea urchin roe) is high in protein (up to 70%), amino acids, iron, and minerals, making it useful for vitality, regulate metabolism, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.

With various benefits, sea urchin eggs form the raw materials for pharmaceutical and food industries. In the Mediterranean, North America, Chile, New Zealand, the eggs are often eaten raw with lemon juice. In Japan, roe known as 'uni' and is the raw sushi and sashimi. Japan imported sea urchins from the United States and South Korea.
In addition to consumption, almost all parts of the sea urchins body can be utilized and processed into useful products (zero waste product). Shells can be used as raw material for handicrafts or turned into flour as animal feed and its gut can serve as organic fertilizer.
Despite of its benefits the presence of sea urchins interfere with the growth of coral and endangering divers. A single prick of its sharp thorn, can results into an instantaneous throbbing pain to its victim.

Based on information obtained from sea urchin farmers in this region, the harvest season are normally between February-March, June-July and November. The sea urchins are said to reproduce during full moon although further scientific validation is required. A Sea Urchin eggs weighs about 300gram and a Sea Urchins can produce as much as 25-35% of its total weight. A live sea urchin weighing 300 grams can be valued at 1 USD.

sushi1 Sea Urchins as a delicacy in Japanese restaurants

Urchin aquaculture can be an alternative business for fishermen amid a hostile sea, sail the high cost of the crush, difficulty in finding fishes in the sea (which encourages the practice of illegal fishing and destruction of coral reefs by fishermen ), as well as other risks. It provides fishermen who are budding entrepreneurs and independent, the opportunity into an industry that they are very much familiar with its source of raw materials.

  • 1. Remove the spines that you received from the urchin if possible. It will hurt, but it is necessary in order for it to start the healing process. It is imperative that you take them out fast in order to reduce the pain and get most of the spine out.


    2. Cover the affected area with vinegar once you get out of the water. Soak a lint-free towel in vinegar and hold it on there as long as possible.


    3. Soak it in hot water as hot as you can tolerate for about twenty to forty minutes . It will ease the pain if it doesn't stop it completely and help to relieve soreness on the following day. Put vinegar on it again.


    4. When you go to bed, wrap the area that was stung with a lint-free towel, soaked in vinegar. Wrap the towel in plastic wrap and tape it so it stays on through the night.


    Quick Soak Method
  • 1. Simply pour some vinegar into a suitable container and place the affected foot/hand/elbow/body part in the vinegar for as long as you can. You may be able to actually watch spines "dissolve" as a foot soaked in vinegar from obvious spine, to black pinpoint discoloration, to nothing.


    2. A good wash with some anti-bacterial soap and/or an application of antibiotic cream or ointment to the area after soaking is a good idea as well.


    3. As always, keep an eye on the site of injury for a few days after the incident to make sure no infection sets in.