Shortspined Sea Urchin

sea-urchin purple
© Tasmanian Government. Image Peter Gouldthorpe
Season: Open all year

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Guide to symbols

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Minimum size

Measured as the maximum diameter of the test (the hard shell), excluding the spines.

Other names

purple sea urchin, Helio urchin

Scientific name

Heliocidaris erythrogramma

Grows to

Up to


Identifying features

​This common sea urchin has a hard exoskeleton with numerous sharp spines protruding from it.  Most often a pale purple in colour but also occurs in pink and light olive green.  The mouth is on the underside of the body.


Found in a variety of habitats from sheltered intertidal areas down to deeper waters up to 35 metres.  They attach themselves to boulders, rock crevices, reefs, seagrass beds and muddy bottom.  Urchins graze on seagrass and algae and can form aggregations known as barrens.

Fishing Information 

Not commonly targeted by recreational divers in Tasmania though often observed in depths up to 15 metres.  The purplish exoskeleton is found by beachcombers washed up around the Tasmanian coast, usually without the spines.


Take care if handling as their fragile spines can puncture skin and remain embedded.


The roe is edible but its quality can vary seasonally.​


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

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Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550


Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 1, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550