Sea potato

Scientific name: Echinocardium cordatum
Sea potatoes may have a funny name, but they are perfectly adapted for life in the sand. They are a type of sea urchin that live in a burrow in the sand, feeding on dead animals and plants using their tube feet!

Species information

Statistics

Diameter: 6-9cm Average Lifespan: 10-20 years

Conservation status

Common

When to see

January to December

About

Sea potatoes are a medium-sized urchin that live in burrow in the sand. They are covered in beige spines, which give them a furry appearance and have tube ‘feet’ that they use to feed on dead animals and plants. When they die their empty shells can be found washed up on the beach and have a white, brittle appearance.

How to identify

The familiar white 'test' (shell) of the dead animal is often washed up on the shore. It is recognisable by the heart shape, dull whiteish colour and thin, brittle shell. The animal itself is covered in dense fur-like spines.

Distribution

Found on sandy and muddy shores all round our coasts.

Did you know?

The test of a Sea potato is distinctively heart shaped - giving them their other common name of Heart urchin. A slightly nicer name than Sea potato!

How people can help

Sea urchins and starfish provide a vital link in the food chain for many of our rarer species. Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or check out our Action pages.