Distribution: rocky areas throughout exposed and
protected coastal waters.
Habitat: rocky substrates, especially ledges and crevices; locate near or in
giant or bull kelp beds and other brown algae in areas of moderate to swift currents;
larvae drift and feed in plankton; juveniles settle near kelp beds, often associate with
aggregations of adults, remain under adult spines until they reach 40 mm.
Tidal elevation: extreme low tide to 100 m subtidal depth; most concentrated
abundance just below the upper limit of range, usually 5-10 m subtidal.
Food: herbivore; grazes on attached marine plants and drifting kelp fragments;
primary food is kelp and may limit kelp distribution.
Predators: sea stars, sea otter, octopus, crabs, wolf eels; numerous predators
Slow, very dependent on food (i.e. kelp) supply;
sexually mature at 50 mm test diameter reached at 2 yr; reaches commercial size, 100 mm at
4-5 yr; may reach 190-200 mm test diameter.
Small commercial diving fishery; minimum size limit 100 mm;
1986 commercial catch was 2,067 t valued at $1 million.
Bernard, F.R. 1977. Fishery and reproductive cycle of the red
sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, in British Columbia. J. Fish. Res.
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and K. Francis [ed.] Invertebrate and marine plant fishery resources of British Columbia.
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red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, and its fishery in California.
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