Martha Wolfe sent a sea-bean listserve inquiry a few weeks ago about finding a large number of urchin skeletons on the beach in South Brevard, saying There were hundreds yesterday. In the 4 years I've lived here, I have only found two before yesterday. There was no definitive answer to this interesting question, but a listserve response from Christopher Boykin, Awareness and Appreciation Coordinator at Florida Department of Environmental Protection, suggested that maybe the population exceeded the available food source from a boom/bust algal bloom or maybe it was dredging or maybe we’ll never know. Martha is Doherty Visiting Professor in the Marine and Environmental Systems College of Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology. Her area of expertise is environmental toxicology, and her current research interest is Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs), including Florida Red Tide. (We'll hope to avoid another Red Tide event like we had last year.) I have, of course, added Martha's name to my mental roladex of reliable sources of information. (I understand from others who have made the list that this is a dubious honor.) I appreciate her sending these photos with permission to share them. Remember that these show just the skeletons. Live urchins are round things with spines - they look kind of like mini Koosh balls.
Congratulations to the Orlando Magic and all of us that stayed up late enough to watch them whomp the Cavaliers last night! It's on to LA, but not until next week, which should allow us to catch up on our sleep.