[Coral-List] Steel and granite boring by sea urchins

Walter Goldberg goldberg at fiu.edu
Fri Jan 11 12:28:40 EST 2013

Simon, Although urchin boring into steel is rare, it is not unprecedented and appears to be facilitated by the mechanical removal of of the protective anti-corrosion layer that exposes the raw material to seawater (e.g,, the purple urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus- see Irwin M. 1953. Steelboring sea urchins. Pacific Discovery 4: 26-27). Likewise and equally rarely, some urchins  are capable of boring into granite- see Fewkes WJ. 1890. On excavations made in rocks by sea-urchins. American Naturalist 24: 1-21.
Walter M. Goldberg
Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences
Chair, Biological Sciences Honors Program
Florida International University
University Park Campus
Miami, FL 33199
email goldberg at fiu.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of David Evans
Sent: 10 January 2013 20:49
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov; rookerj at tamug.edu
Cc: maritime_archaeology at yahoo.co.uk
Subject: [Coral-List] Fw: ADMAT - Sea Urchins eating iron cannons and
granite blocks...
I was made aware of an interesting observation from a Marine Archaeology
list. I thought it would be useful to pass it on here for any further input..
Dr. Simon Spooner of the Anglo~Danish Maritime Archaeological Team (ADMAT;
www.admat.org.uk ) posted this observation on the Sub-Arch List server (
SUB-ARCH at ASU.EDU ) about bio-eroding sea urchins ( Reb Rock Boring Sea
Urchin ?*echinometre lucunter*) on a shipwreck off the Dominican Republic,
boring holes into granite blocks and iron canon cargo at the wreck site. He
was asking if anyone has experience encountering something similar. I will
post an excerpt here:

..... a shipwreck off Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic... ? ?

..... we noted an interesting biologic factor and wanted to know if anyone on
the list has encountered such on their surveys.

During the survey we noted that some of the granite blocks (over 60 of them
part of the cargo) which were in the shallows, less than 3 meters depth,
water temp arround 80 deg F, had holes "drilled" in them. In addition iron
cannons which appear to have been new cannons with the touche-holes not
drilled, also had holes in them. We have proved that these holes were made
by a particular type of sea urchin, the Reb Rock Boring Sea Urchin or
Echinometre Lucunter.

-->Has anyone conducted a survey where they have encountered this,
-->either in cargo or on iron cannons?<--

[additionally: "ADMAT is intending to return to the wreck site this summer
and i hope we can get some further research on these things as there are a
number of interesting questions they throw up, like how long to burrow a
hole and how fast to they breed?"]

Many thanks
Dr. Simon Q. Spooner, BSc, MRICS, PhD, MIfA.
maritime_archaeology at yahoo.co.uk
Anglo~Danish Maritime Archaeological Team www.admat.org.uk

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I was sure some folks on the NOAA Coral list may have some input.
David J. Evans
Bending Light
davidjevans1818 at yahoo.com

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