The Sandin lab has joined efforts on a new research initiative based at the CARMABI research station in Curaçao. The research is supervised by Dr. Sandin and led by Kelly Latijnhouwers, who recently received her master’s degree in Marine biology at the University of Amsterdam. She is trying to obtain as much data as possible about the long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum), lovingly called “sea eggs” in the Caribbean region. By contacting people all over the Caribbean, including fishermen, marine biologists, dive instructors, and snorkeling tourists, we can gain insight into Diadema antillarum occurrence and abundance.
This particular species is of interest due to it’s unique history in the Caribbean. Once thought to be a critically important grazer on Caribbean reefs, this urchin species went through a major die-off in the early 80’s, causing drastic effects for algal abundance on Caribbean coral reefs. This milestone in marine ecology was famously documented in Science by Lessios et al. (1984) and numerous other studies thereafter. Now, 30 years later, our goal is to determine if the “sea eggs” are making a comeback, a positive signal for reefs throughout the Caribbean.