"Beware of Dadgum Spider Monkeys!"
There are a number of things to beware of when playing in the wide ocean; Sharks, Barracuda, Lionfish, Fire Coral, Jelly Fish, Man-o-War, and Sea Urchins. Today, we have the lesson of the Sea Urchin.
My Uncle Kevin had his first taste of Diadema Antillarum off the coast of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Diadema Antillarum is more commonly known as the Caribbean Long-Spined Sea Urchin. The spines of the Caribbean variety can grow as long as 12 inches. They inhabit warmer oceanic settings at depths of between 3 and 30 feet, and prefer rockier coral-poor habitats. Any locations that do appear coral-poor should be suspect as a habitat, and you should tread lightly. They can be clustered rather densely in areas, and can be on vertical surfaces or even upside down. Always watch where you swim or step.
The sting of the spines is not poisonous, but definitely hurts worse than getting a fish hook stuck in your hand. The size of the spines alone should be enough to deter predators or clumsy humans, but occasionally they find themselves lodged in a poor man's size 90 foot (he's a man of tall stature). If you manage to step on one, it is likely that you were stung by more than just a single spine. A Sea Urchin is able to full control it's spines at will and will redirect them towards a threat. It IS possible to pick them up, but DON'T TRY IT YOURSELVES.
If you are stung, alternate ice and heat on the affected area. Break off any exposed spines or attempt to remove any easily spotted spines. However, do not attempt to remove spines that are deep within the skin. Your skin will be inflamed for some time in the area, but the spines will naturally be dissolved by your body. The Spines of the Diadema Antillarum are made of mostly Calcium Carbonate. This is compound can be absorbed by the body. It's good for your bones. It can take a few months to dissolve, but much better than cutting your foot up for microscopic pieces of spine.
We will never forget what he called the Sea Urchin. We told him it was a Sea Urchin, and he called it a "Dadgum Spider-Monkey". Somewhere out there is a poor urchin with a bunch of broken spines, thanks to Kevin. I hope he doesn't go back there, because those Spider-Monkeys may be waiting for him. They'll be attacking the boat next time!
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