Sea Urchins Wear Shells As Hat So Aquarists Made Tiny Fedoras For Them To Wear Instead

The ocean is full of life and seems to regularly be home to surprising discoveries. Though it’s not a new discovery, a lot of people are surprised to learn that there are 950 unique species of sea urchins that live the ocean’s waters. These prickly looking creatures are sometimes called the “procupines of the sea.” However, unlike with porcupines, sea urchins’ spines aren’t very protective. In fact, these small animals wear shells, stones, and even little hats, to protect themselves.

A biologist named Morgan Kester made the discovery that sea urchins use things to protect themselves – and as a result, some aquarists make them tiny hats to wear. She shared on social media: “I was today years old when I learned that sea urchins naturally use shells as hats for camouflage, so some aquarists had the genius idea to make them tiny hats.”

Along with her discovery, she shared a photo of sea urchins wearing tiny 3D-printed hats. These hats, which included cowboy hats, top hats, and fedoras, serve a dual purpose of both fashion and safety.

Scientists are not totally sure why sea urchins use coverings and hats, but speculations include using them as protection from the sun’s UV rays, protection from predators, and as a way to stay more grounded during a storm.

Redditor u/VanillaBean5813 has actually made these tiny hats for sea urchins before. They said, “Our sea urchins like to cover their heads so we 3d printed them some hats.”

As they shared in the comments, they started with a “witchy prototype” and ended with top hats, as they were less prone to falling off.


They’re part of a family operation that produces these hats. As they shared with Bored Panda: “My dad is the real aquarist (and also a Redditor), I modify 3D models from the internet, and my mom runs the 3D printer.”

Another sea urchin hat-maker also shared information about the process to the Reef2Reef forum. They also used a 3-D printer to make the hats. They said, “I decided to do a quick design for a 3D-printed hat, and for my surprise they absolutely love it. Since I replaced the rocks and shells from their back with the hats, they never let it go, and I was astonished to see them moving the hats towards the light source. Which leads me to the conclusion they certainly use it against excessive UV rays.”

Emma Verling, a senior postdoctoral researcher at MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, shared with Bored Panda that these hats are completely safe and even a positive thing. She said: “I think the 3D hats are a fun idea, a great talking point, and a way to educate people as to the complex ecology of sea urchins…I honestly don’t see that they could do any harm in an aquarium setting.”

They’re definitely more stylish than their natural alternatives!

What do you think of these tiny sea urchin hats?

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