Dive Medicine: Sea Urchin Puncture Wound
Sea Urchin Puncture Overview
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Sea urchins have globe to flattened-shaped bodies covered with spines. They are non-aggressive marine animals found all over the world. They live in shallow, rocky bottoms, or hide in sandy cervices. Human contact with sea urchins is either accidental or intentional. People accidentally step on them in shallow surf, or intentionally pick up the urchins, unaware that they must handle the spines with care to avoid injury.
Sea urchins have two types of venomous organs - spines and pedicellaria. Spines produce puncture wounds. Pedicellaria are small, delicate seizing organs that lie between the spines and release venom when they attach to an object.
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The phylum Echinodermata includes a diverse group of marine animals that are slow moving and nonaggressive, including brittle stars (class Ophiuroidea), starfish (class Asteroidea), sea urchins (class Echinoidea), and sea cucumbers (class Holothuroidea).