Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Sea urchins live in the deep cold fjords of Norway and are known for their sweet and rich taste, which makes a superb gastronomic experience. Raw roe from sea urchin is a delicacy in Japan, where it is an essential part on the menu in sushi restaurants.

Area

Only small quantities are to be found in Norwegian waters, primarily in the northern seas of Nordland.

Maximum size

Up to 10 centimetres in diameter

Some alternative names

Latin: Strongylocentrotus spp.

English: Sea urchin

French: Oursin du mer

German: Seeigel

The sea urchin is one of the earliest known forms of life – their fossils date back 450 million years. There are around 1,000 species of sea urchins in the world, 16 of which are present in Norway. The two most common along the Norwegian coast are the red and the green species. They can be found all along the coast from a depth of 2 down to 25 or 50 metres.

There are male and female sea urchins, although it may be hard to tell the difference. They reproduce by releasing their eggs and sperm at the same time directly into the water, usually in late winter or early spring. The larvae swim freely in the ocean until they attach themselves to the substratum and go through a complex metamorphosis to become a symmetrical adult. This process takes several months. Sea urchins live for up to 10 years.

Sea urchin roe is in high demand on the world market and currently there is not a large enough supply. However Norway's commercial use of sea urchins has come a long way through wild catch as well as the creation of two sea urchin hatcheries.

Wild catch

Sea urchin is mostly harvested by divers. The roe is at its best in late autumn and early winter, before the eggs mature.

Products

Sea urchin is sold as following products:

  • As whole and alive
  • Washed and salted fresh or frozen
  • Only the roe

Diet

Kelp, seaweed, diatoms and decaying material