Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Urchins primarily eat algae and kelp, often grabbing bits of food out of the water. Then they use their tube feet and spines to convey food from whatever part of the body first contacts it, to their mouth. Animal Caretakers enjoy offering them long strands of kelp just to watch this process.
♣ To protect themselves from predators
♣ To protect themselves from wave action
♣ To take the brunt of collisions with flotsam and jetsam
♣ To protect themselves from harmful UV radiation
♣ In case there’s something edible on the item, they can eat it later
♣ Holding debris is an inadvertent result of being able to hold useful things like food and substrate
We want our animals’ enrichment to fill their needs as well as provide learning opportunities for our guests. The Stormtrooper helmet was fun and offered a good way to open conversations about this behavior, but so far the urchins are having none of it. And they get to decide.