Biodiversity & Conservation

Purple sea urchin - Paracentrotus lividus

Paracentrotus lividus

Image Sue Scott - Purple sea urchin. Image width ca 10 cm
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Distribution map

Paracentrotus lividus recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

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Paracentrotus lividus is not listed under any importance categories.

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Echinodermata Starfish, brittlestars, sea urchins & sea cucumbers
Class Echinoidea Sea urchins, heart urchins and sand dollars
Authority Lamarck, 1816
Recent synonyms None
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Paracentrotus lividus is found in the Channel Islands, in a few locations in western Scotland and occasionally on the south west coasts of England. It is common on the west coast of Ireland and is abundant in areas such as County Clare.
Habitat information icon Habitat information The purple sea urchin is found on the lower rocky shore in rock pools and into the shallow sublittoral down to depths of 3 m, but may be found deeper. It can also be found higher up on the middle/upper shore in rockpools e.g. in Scotland. It uses its spines and teeth to bore into soft rocks, its burrow providing protection from both wave action and desiccation at low tide. The urchin increases the size of its burrow as it grows. They are also sometimes found in beds of the seagrass Zostera spp.
Text page icon Description This sea urchin has a round, flattened test up to 7 cm in diameter. It has long, sharply pointed spines which are dark purple to dark green and has a greenish test.
Identifying features
  • Round, greenish, flattened test.
  • Test up to 7 cm in diameter.
  • Spines long and sharp, dark purple to dark green in colouration.
  • Ambulacral plates with 5-6 pairs of pores.
  • Tube feet arranged in arcs of 5-6.
Additional information icon Additional information The gonads are considered a delicacy in the Mediterranean.

This review can be cited as follows:

Paolo Pizzolla 2007. Paracentrotus lividus. Purple sea urchin. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 25/11/2015]. Available from: <>