Tag Archives: Urchins

Signs: Beware of spiny urchins

The beach in front of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
A sign at the beach in front of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

I was amused by this sign on the beach in front of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Spiny urchins in the rocks are like white lines on the highway. But of course, a visitor is not necessarily aware of this and the Four Seasons wouldn’t want any of its guests impaling themselves on spiky marine life, especially if they were likely to complain about it later.

This sign wasn’t far from another one that basically said you’d die if you set foot on the beach (here). Perhaps this was why the very lovely beach was deserted when I was there.

Helmet urchins on the coast

This scene drew my attention because of the smooth, round rock nestled into a matching recess in the shore (bottom left in the top photo). It was when I zoomed in (bottom photo) that I noticed the large number of helmet urchins stuck to the shoreline. These cheerful-looking purple blobs live in the harsh tidal zone, and area of crashing waves and surging water. They feed on algae that grows there.

In the middle photo, an a’ama crab skirts a colony of urchins. When the tide comes in, the crab will move to higher ground, but the urchins will stay put, tenaciously defying everything the ocean throws at them.

Dwarf moray eel

Dwarf Moray eel

I was watching some fish in fairly shallow water when, below them, I noticed this eel tucked away in a groove in the rock. It looked different to anything I’d seen before, but often the young of a species can look very different to the adults. However, a browse through my fish book showed it’s a dwarf moray eel, which doesn’t grow to more than 12 inches long. The clinching feature, which can be seen in this photo, is the dark bar through its eye.

Dwarf morays are fairly common in Hawaii, but because of their size and their reclusive nature they’re not often seen. This was as far as this eel emerged from of its hiding place so I was happy to get this shot.

I think the pinkish pincushion next to it is a rock-boring urchin, which gets its name from the fact that it can bore into solid rock by scraping with its spines and teeth. A second of these urchins can be seen in the little recess below the main one.