Sea urchins are fragile but beautiful members of the starfish family and, when properly preserved, can make stunning centerpieces in an ocean-themed room. Careful handling is required to prevent damage, and they must be cleaned and prepared immediately to avoid rot. Sea urchins are found in almost all oceans and are commonly found washed up on beaches. Follow these steps to preserve your treasure for years to come.
Fill a small bucket with enough rubbing alcohol to cover the urchins, and allow them to soak for 48 hours. This will help to disinfect any bacteria on the dead urchin and loosen any dirt, debris or salt accumulations.
Empty the bucket and allow the sea urchin to sit in a dry, sunny location for a few days or until the urchin is completely dry and the spines are loose to the touch.
Pick the spines carefully off of the urchin using gloved hands.
Flip the urchin over, and use a dental pick or other small piece of metal (a bent piece of wire, such as a paper clip, works well in a pinch) to pick out any tissue remaining inside the urchin’s shell.
Fill a bucket with a solution of one part bleach to five parts water, and submerge the urchin shell for 24 hours to kill any lingering odor and disinfect the shell interior.
Seal the urchin by diluting a mixture of one part white glue to one part water, and brush the solution lightly over the shell with a soft, clean paintbrush. Most collectors preserve this inner shell only, but some take the time to seal each spine also. Rarely, sea urchin spines are reattached using a small dab of epoxy at the base of each spine, although this is up to you as the collector and depends on the final look you desire.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Wire or dental pick
- White glue
- Small brush
When collecting any marine life for preservation, make sure that local laws allow removal of the animals, alive or dead. Always handle sea urchins cautiously. Although very few urchin species are capable of causing severe harm, some have venom that can be irritating to skin and eyes.