The Long-spined urchin

This research is an initiative by Scripps Institution of Oceanography San Diego, and based at Carmabi research station in Curaçao. The research is supervised by Stuart Sandin, professor at Scripps, and led by Kelly Latijnhouwers, who recently received her master’s degree in Marine biology at the University of Amsterdam. She is trying to obtain as many data as possible by contacting people all over the Caribbean. From fishermen and marine biologists, to dive instructors and snorkeling tourists; all insights in Diadema antillarum abundance are useful for this research. By doing this, we are aiming to acquire information on the current status of D. antillarum throughout the entire Caribbean. D. antillarum once was the most important grazer on Caribbean reefs. However, this species went through a major die-off in the early 80’s, causing drastic effects for algal abundance on Caribbean coral reefs. The course of this mass die-off was published in Science by Lessios et al. (1984), and our goal is to determine the status of D. antillarum 30 years later. One is claiming that the urchin is slowly making its return, which would be good news for coral reefs. This research will show whether that hypothesis is true or not.