Although the spiny, horrifying outside may scare you off, the insides of a sea urchin are one of the most delicious things to come out of the ocean. In Japan, sea urchin, or uni in Japanese, can be enjoyed with sushi, on top of rice or just own its own. Sea urchins are a treat for any seafood fan, but recently a group of Japanese netizens found out a little bit more about the life of the sea creature and began a deep discussion about the spiny little critters.
After finding out that some sea urchins can live for over 200 years, netizens started a thread on a popular site to express their amazement at the animal’s long lifespan. The discussion was apparently brought on by a book called “The Science of Sea Urchins.” Written by biologist Tatsuo Motokawa, the almost 500-page book details the life cycle, eating habits and anatomy of sea urchins. Though the subject may sound dry, it’s worth noting that Professor Motokawa is also known as the “Singing Scientist” and has had songs, such as Living Creatures are Columns, featured on Japanese TV.
▼ The Singing Scientist doing his part to liven up the world of biology
Image: YouTube (maikinman)
Although not all sea urchin species have such long lifespans, netizens were still impressed to find out just how long these little spiny guys could live. Out of the about 950 species, the red sea urchin is the one that seems to have one of the longest lifespans and are also one of the largest species of sea urchins. And not even all red sea urchins live that long. They are found all along the western coast of North America and it looks like those who make their home in Canada are the ones living the longest.
▼ This red sea urchin probably isn’t going anywhere for a while
The Internet had a lot of questions about sea urchins with their newfound knowledge, such as pondering the moral implications of eating such an ancient sea creature or whether the long-lasting sea urchins actually enjoy their 200 years of eating mainly algae. Some netizens envied how much some urchins were able to “see” in their long lives and some even thought it would be great to be reincarnated as a sea urchin for their next life. Although the true heart of the thread were the puns netizens threw around to talk about how unbelievable this sea urchin fun fact was.
Doesn’t matter how many times I hear it, sounds really FISHY to me!
How SHELLFISH would it be to eat such an ancient living being.
This new discovery really SHARKED me!
If that were me, I would be in the SEA, URGIN’ for a more exciting life.
Call me a JELLYFISH, because I want to live 200 years.
Although most of these netizens didn’t seem like they would be giving up eating their precious sea urchins, they did appear to have new respect for the spiky animal. While it doesn’t look like all sea urchins live as long as their red sea urchin cousins, it should make you appreciate a little more the impressive work of Mother Nature that goes into a delicious sushi meal.