Phylum: Echinodermata    

Classes: Crinoidea, Ophiuroidea, Asteroidea, Echinoidea, Holothuroidea     

Echinoderms are a group of exclusively marine animals found at all depths of the ocean. There are approximately 7,000 species worldwide. Adults are radially symmetrical with the body usually arranged in five segments around a central axis. The skin is covered in calcareous plates or ossicles which give it a bumpy or spiky appearance – the name echinoderm comes from the Greek for “spiny skin”.

For more information on echinoderms in general click here

Trinidad & Tobago Echinoderms

The diversity of echinoderms around Trinidad & Tobago is quite low with probably no more than 70 species present. The most commonly encountered echinoderms for most people in Trinidad will be the flattened sand dollars seen on sandy beaches in the surf. The dead skeletons of some species are often found washed up amongst beach debris. Other echinoderms will generally only be seen by divers or snorkelers including the black long-spined sea urchin which can be the cause of great discomfort if accidentally stepped on or handled.

For more information about echinoderms in the Caribbean see this paper - Echinoderm diversity in the Caribbean Sea by J.J. Alvarado

For profiles of selected species click here

UWIZM Collections

The collection consists of around 100 wet preserved and dried specimens. They were mostly collected from all around Trinidad, with a few from Tobago and the Lesser Antilles. At the moment the sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea) and sea urchins (Echinoidea) have been recently curated but more work needs to be done on the other classes.



Display of dried echinoderms used in education and outreach

Underside of preserved sea cucumber

Slides with sea cucumber ossicles, these microscopic structures are found in the body wall of the animal and are used in identification

Back to The Collections


Last updated 12 June 2018


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