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HEART URCHIN (Breynia australasiae)
Biodiversity > Marine Life > Echinoderm > Sea urchins

Breynia australasiae

Probably the most conspicuous animal –or at least its skeleton- found on the lagoon beaches at Lord Howe Island is the Heart urchin Breynia australasiae. Unlike the other urchins this one is not a surface dweller but lives buried in the sand. The spines are short and thin, somewhat like toothbrush bristles. During very low tides, it is possible to see small mounds of sand along the low tide line, indicating the presence of these urchins near the surface. When they die, their empty skeletons often wash onto the beach, and are fascinating to inspect. They are detritus feeders, rowing themselves through the sand, ingesting the sand and removing detrital material. The general heart shape of the urchin skeleton gives them their name.


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