Heart urchins at Turtleman's House
Heart Urchin -
Any echinoid marine invertebrate of the order Spatangoidea (phylum Echinodermata), in which the body is usually oval or heart-shaped. The internal skeleton is rather fragile with four porous spaces, or petaloids. The body is covered with fine, usually short spines.
Heart urchins live in burrows lined with mucus. Long tentacles (modified tube feet) reach out over the sand to pick up small particles of food; other tube feet have respiratory and sensory (not locomotive) functions. It is covered by a dense mat of fine spines, most of which are directed backwards. Movement is carried out by means of the spines. Burrows in sand and sometimes found near surface at low tide on sandy beaches.
The common heart urchin (Echinocardium cordatum) occurs in all oceans.
Photographs by Marty Casado
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San Pedro Daily, Tony Rath's "Images of Belize"