Toxopneustes pileolus (Lamarck, 1816)

Common Name: 
Flower Urchin
Distribution: 

Common throughout the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the warm temperate waters worldwide. In Australia recorded from around Exmouth and the Timor Sea in Western Australia, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, south to southern New South Wales, and including Lord Howe Island.

Ecological Notes: 

Frequents rocky and coral reef areas where it feeds on algae attached to the substrate. Depth to at least 88 m.

Additional Notes: 

Thought to be related to deaths in the 1960s, should be not handled with bare hands. Flower like pedicillariae are able to inject venom and their appearance gives the animal its common name of flower urchin. Attached detritus is common and is thought to provide shade and camouflage, see Tripneustes sp. which also utilises similar behaviour. Grows to at least 120 mm.

References: 

Davie, Peter. Wild Guide to Moreton Bay and Adjacent Coasts. Second Edition. Published by Queensland Museum. Vol 2, p.275.

Atlas of Living Australia website at https://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=Toxopneustes+pileolus. Accessed 14/10/2018.