St. Lawrence species

Green sea urchin

Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

Type of resource

  • Seafood
  • Seafood - echinoderm

Status of the resource

  • Not determined

In season

Fresh mostly during the spring and in the autumn (seasons vary according to harvest zones).

SIZE : A diameter between 50 and 60 mm, can go up to 100 mm.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : 20 to 25 years.

LIFE CYCLE : In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Green sea urchin reproduces during April and May. In its estuary, this takes place later in May and June. Males and females release their gametes in the water column where fertilisation occurs. After hatching, the eggs release a small larva which floats around for 2 to 5 months to eventually transform itself and settle on the seafloor.

Did you know that?

When a Green sea urchin senses danger, it releases its gametes. By survival instinct of the species, the sea urchins in the vicinity follow the movement and, in turn, release their reproductive cells, thus starting a chain reaction.

The Green sea urchin is shaped like a hemisphere and is covered with long green spines. Its structure, called a test, is rigid and made up of calcium carbonate plaques which are bound together. Its colour varies from pale green to dark green, with occasional shades of red. Its buccal appendage, known as Aristotle’s lantern, has 5 teeth in the ventral location. The anus is on the dorsal side. To move around, the sea urchin uses its spines and small tubes called podia.

Coastal zone, up to 800 m in depth.
The Green sea urchin favours cold waters.

PREYS : Seaweeds, mussels, organic matters.

PREDATORS : Lobsters, crabs, sea stars, spotted wolfishes, Atlantic wolfishes, seabirds.

Did you know that?

The Green sea urchin is the invertebrate most present in the shallow rocky environments of Eastern Canada. This presence has an influence on the seaweed environment, which is grazed by sea urchins. Sea urchins are particularly fond of kelp. Fortunately, some seaweeds, such as Sieve kelp, seem to be more resilient.

MACHINES : Hand harvesting, whelk crates.

REGULATIONS : Fishing effort management:

  • Minimum harvest size of 50 mm
  • Different fishing zones
  • Specified fishing season
  • Fishing zones
  • Quotas

Sea urchin fishing started in the 1990s and developed slowly. In addition to fishing, sea urchin farming is gradually gaining in importance. For the time being, sales are mainly to Asian markets.

BENEFITS : Green sea urchins are rich in protein and minerals, with high levels of Omega-3, well known for its benefits to cardiovascular health.

LET’S COOK : Green sea urchins are harvested for their gonads, which are their reproductive organs. This is the part that is renowned for its exquisite taste, slightly salty and iodised. Its texture is somewhat creamy and smooth.

It is often served raw with a bit of lemon or lime juice, or with shallots and salt. The gonads can also be boiled, fried, or steamed. They are also delicious in sauces, soups, or omelettes.


  • Servir cru, agrémenté d’un peu de jus de citron, de lime, ou encore d’échalote et de sel.
  • Le corail peut être bouilli, frit ou cuit à la vapeur. Il est également très bon dans les sauces, soupes ou omelettes.