PacSci Perspectives


“Sea Urchins See With Their Feet”

by | Jun 14, 2018

Some of the residents of our Puget Sound Tide Pool

We here at Pacific Science Center love a good headline. When they grab your attention and happen to involve some of our resident creatures, it’s even better.

This is one of those.

This one comes from Lund University in Sweden by way of Researchers have determined the spiny animals without eyes use their feet to explore their world. Turns out they have light sensitive cells in their tube feet. Fascinating.

A note from our Animal Care Supervisor, Lauren Bloomenthal: “Pacific Science Center’s Puget Sound Tide Pool has 3 different species of sea urchin. They often hang out in the deep water, away from the touching area, since they are mobile and go where they please, this might even be related to their vision. Perhaps the motion and light-blocking of people looks like predation to them. If they do wind up in the shallow end, you don’t really touch sea urchins, you let them touch you. You would place your finger lightly between their spines, and you can actually see their response to your presence, closing their spines gently around your finger, and investigating with their tube feet. What do you think they think your finger is? How does their vision compare to the eye spots at the end of a sea star’s leg?”

Read the story at then come observe these eyeless but not sightless animals yourself. Entry to our Puget Sound Tide Pool is included with the price of general admission – FREE for our Members.