The Common Sea Urchin is a globular shaped animal that is encased in a crystalline exoskeleton and covered in long spines. These spines can deliver painful stings to humans, though these are generally not too serious.


Common throughout most coasts of the British Isles, with a notable absence along the East coasts of England. They generally live on rocky sea beds anywhere up to around 1000m deep.


They are generally scavengers that use their five small jaws to scrape away layers of algae from the rocky surfaces as well as organic matter from dead animals.

Predators & Threats

Within the UK’s waters, lobsters and crabs are the main predators of the urchin, though they are also prone to parasitic infections. More than 100,000 tons of sea urchin are consumed by humans annually, most notably within Japanese and French culture.


  • The term ‘urchin’ is a Middle English word meaning ‘hedgehog’.
  • Where caviar is the eggs of fish,  sea urchin roe is actually their gonads.


Common Name(s)Scientific Name
Common Sea Urchin, European Edible Sea UrchinEchinus esculentus
 15-16cm in diameter
≤ 12 years

Best Time to Look

All year round.


Where to find Common Sea Urchin