We are psyched to announce that ORA is now breeding Variegated Sea Urchins (Lytechinus variegates) in captivity. This first ORA species to be announced in 2011 is the 85 ornamental marine species they offer.
Urchins are regularly used for algae control in the ORA’s coral greenhouse, and although they have experienced mass spawning events in the past, no real effort had been put into trying to raise anything.
Beginning on Dec 31st, of 2010, ORA coral employees collected the Variegated Sea Urchin eggs as they were being released. Out of curiosity, a small amount of sperm was mixed with the eggs in order to fertilize them. The fertilized eggs were placed in a temperature-controlled room, and the magic began. Over the next few days, ORA employees places the Pluteus larvae in a larval tank, and a supply of diatomaceous microalage was provided as food. Several weeks later, a new batch of algae eating machines is on it’s way.
ORA is unsure of the growth rate at this time, but hopefully these will show up on their list relatively soon. As always, ORA always provides amazing photography to document their progress.