Steve the Working Urchin

Steve the Working Urchin

Steve the only Working Urchin on Twitter

Meet Steve. Steve is a sea urchin. He’s a WORKING sea urchin.


I met Steve when the lovely Lindsay Waldrop was curating RealScientists* on Twitter. She tweeted a photo of him, saying “This is Steve. He’s a working urchin.” 

Regular visitors to the Lily Pad will understand why I immediately took to Steve. He’s not just any old urchin. He’s a WORKING urchin. With a Twitter account.



Lindsay has kindly indulged my insanity allowed me some time with Steve to interview him about life in the tank, the universe, and how tasty white star fish are.

Hi Steve. How are you today?

Hi Frog. I am lonely because the caretaker has not been in to see me because of anchor ice (e.g. snow storm). It is very distressing, but I think I will survive another day.

Oh Steve you poor thing. I’m sure your caretaker will get back to you as soon as she can. I’ve never seen an urchin like you before (I’m a frog, not a fish, after all). Can you explain to us what kind of urchin you are?

I’m a very special creature. Christopher Mah, an echinoderm expert at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, identified me as a slate pencil urchin, Eucidaris tribuloides. His blog is here:

A WORKING slate pencil urchin. Very cool. What’s your favourite thing to eat?

I very much enjoy munching on algae that grow in my tank. I have been also know to eat the caretaker’s sea squirts, and the small white starfish that steal attention from me on occasion. They are far less adorable than me.

I’ve heard some terrible things about starfish so I don’t blame you for eating them. So how did you end up in your tank?

I spent some time in a fish store before the caretaker brought me home in a bag of water. This was stressful, as I have decided I do not care for rides in the car. I like my new tank home much better than a bag of water.

What do you like most about being a working urchin?

I enjoy the plentiful supply of algae and visits by the caretaker and my undergrad friends.

Is there anything you don’t like about being a working urchin?

My hermit crab tank-mates. They are annoying and crawl all over me. I wish I could eat them, but they are too fast to catch.

So who’s your best friend?

I suppose the caretaker, but don’t tell her I said that. I like to keep some mystery in our relationship.

Your secret is safe with me. So, apart from being crawled on by cheeky hermit crabs, what’s the worst thing that’s every happened to you?

Once, there was a problem with a pump that cleans the tank. It pumped out half of my tank’s water before the caretaker realized what was happening! I hid under a rock until the caretaker found me and replaced the water. I am still quite traumatized by it.

That sounds awful. Let’s talk about something happier. What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you while working as an urchin?

I caught and ate one of those annoying white starfish that steal attention from me. It was tasty.

I like to hear when those evil starfish get their comeuppance! I met you through your caretaker but I see you have your own Twitter account now. How are you enjoying Twitter?

I am enjoying the attention very much. As an adorable and superior being, I deserve attention.

Indeed you do! Speaking of attention, what did  a handsome urchin like you do for Valentine’s Day? Did you have a hot date?

I was alone because of the anchor ice, with only hermit crabs  and snails to keep me company. Over lunch, the snails and I had a very slow conversation about the hermit crabs. It wasn’t the hot date I was hoping for. I blame climate change.

Oh. Well that’s awkward. I’m sure you’ll have lots of admirers now you’re on Twitter. In one sentence, why do you think people should follow you on Twitter, Steve?


Thanks so much for chatting with me today Steve. The algae is in the post.

Any time, Frog. Tell your friends to follow me. THE ONLY WORKING URCHIN ON TWITTER. 

Steve sleep

Steve heading to bed for the day

*@realscientists  is an account curated by a different scientist each week and it’s awesome not only because I met Steve through it, but also because of the fascinating, educational and often surprising content. Get on it, Twitlings.


  1. Interesting take on sea life, getting them to do an interview. Very cool!

  2. Ha ha, that is very insightful, poor thing having such a sad Valentine’s Day, love the look of that bed! x

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