With 950 species of sea urchins living on the ocean floor, they are the most widespread and common echinoderms in our oceans. They are often called the "porcupines of the sea" because of their long spines that deter hungry predators. But sea creatures also tend to cover themselves with rocks, shells, stones, and even small hats. Biologist Morgan Kester recently shared the discovery on social media. She writes: "Today I learned how old sea urchins naturally use seashells as camouflage hats. So some aquarists make little hats out of seashells. I've got a great idea.'' She posted a photo of the ocean looking pretty. Urchins wear 3D printed cowboy hats, top hats, and fedoras. The hat not only makes the sea urchin look stylish, but also contributes to the safety of the sea urchin.
The exact reason for covering their "heads" is unknown, but there is a theory that the extra weight helps keep marine life from being washed away during storms. The additional cover is also intended to protect the sea urchins from predators and UV rays.
One of the people who designed the sea urchin hat is Redditor VanillaBean5813. They explain: "My father is a real aquarist (and Redditor), I modify 3D models from the internet, and my mother operates a 3D printer." Tested several hat models Later they decided on a design with a wider brim. "We went through several iterations of the hat," they recall. "I found that the hollow structure floated too much and I lost the witch's hat I had made."
Another person named Riosouza on the Reed2Reef forum also created a hat specifically for sea urchins. “I immediately decided to design a 3D printed hat, and to my surprise, they loved it,” they say. "After we replaced the stones and shells on their backs with hats, we were surprised to see them not letting go of their hands and moving the hats towards the light source. From this, they are definitely protected against excess UV rays." We have come to the conclusion that we are using.”
If you're wondering whether it's safe to make hats for sea urchins, Emma Birling, senior postdoctoral fellow at MaREI's Center for Oceans and Renewable Energy, sheds some light: How to educate people about the complex ecology of sea urchins...I honestly don't see how sea urchins can cause harm in an aquarium. ”