Sea urchins

Sea urchins belong to the group Echinoderms. Mainly they inhabit coral reefs, open rocky costs, mangroves, etc.

Many types of urchins exist, varying in color, size and characteristics of the spikes. The spikes are fine extensions from the body, that itself has a globular form. The spikes are used as defense against predators and for movement.

In Cuba sea urchins are represented by over 60 species; some of them play a fundamental role in certain ecosystems, as is the case of the black urchin with its long spikes (Diadema antillarum).

Most of the injuries from marine organisms in our country are in fact caused by the spikes of sea urchins during swimming along the coasts.

These spikes easily penetrate the skin, break off and remain inside the body, since they are formed of calcium carbonate. The injuries usually involve several spikes having entered the soles of the feet or another part of the body that was in contact with the sea urchin. The symptoms include pain, inflammation and sometimes change of color of the punctured area.

The treatment consists of the local application of an antiseptic and administration of a painkiller.

These lesions can be prevented: avoid swimming in shallow areas where urchins are present and do not to walk barefoot in these areas.