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The eKubator Project

Echinoderm of the Month: Sea Urchin
July 13, 2001
{Author: eBerg Staff}



  This resolute echinoderm, once thought fit only for gulls, is getting its reputation reupholstered. The sea urchin had to endure years of with the dubious moniker “Whore’s Egg.” Fishermen who found them tangled in the nets cursed their very name to the heavens. Nowadays, the sea urchin is a highly regarded species in the new, visionary fishery.

  The roe, or uni, can fetch up to $100 on the Japanese market, and a surging industry is growing around processing the urchin. It is harvested by hardworking divers who have to brave one of the harshest seasons known to fishermen, but it is paying dividends for those in the industry.

  In Wareham, the Sea Urchin Research Facility (SURF) under takes sexing experiments - minds out of the gutter, please - to breed a better quality urchin. The facility is co-located with Woodpick Enterprises, one of the province’s most visionary fish processors. Woodpick’s Golden Sceptre brand of smoked seafood makes its way to restaurants from Switzerland to Mexico, and CEO Woody Waterman is involved in everything from sea cucumber to shark, while carving out strong markets in the Orient.

  Visiting hikers are often baffled to find urchin shells inland and often confuse them as being “washed up” As most of us know, seagulls drop them on craggy surfaces in order to get at the roe inside.

  Not only that, but sea urchin shells make the perfect desk ornament, paperwright, lint remover or substitute whoopy cushion for playing pranks on the boss.