In the early 1980s, Diadema antillarium (long-spined sea urchin) experienced a mass die-off in the Caribbean from unknown causes, and another in 2022 due to a single celled parasite Philaster apodigitiformis. These die-offs negatively affected the health of reef ecosystems, as urchins are an important herbivore for controlling algal growth. Restoring sea urchin populations may improve the conditions of Florida’s Coral Reefs.

In collaboration with the University of Florida and the Florida Aquarium, Frost Science is raising long-spined sea urchins that were spawned in human care. These urchins came to us the size of a grain of sand, but now have spines longer than four inches. Other efforts to restore urchin populations in the wild include a study on urchin relocation and its effects on reefs and introducing urchins to the 100 Yards of Hope restoration site.