© Candace Pratt

 via: directsealife.com

Habitat: Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to Australia and Southern Japan 
 Status: No Conservation Concerns

This is truly a jewel of the sea – a dangerous one, though. The Fire Urchin (Asthenosoma varium) is probably the most beautiful species of sea urchin in the entire ocean. It gets its name from its burning ember appearance. The red body looks as if it really could be radiating heat against the ‘cooler,’ darker spines. It’s so stammeringly enchanting that you might be inclined to touch it… but DO NOT. The other reason why this urchin is named after fire is that its spines are loaded with poison. If you get pricked by one of the spines you’re in for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours of stinging pain. It almost reminds me of the giant ruby in Aladdin when Abu just couldn’t help himself… we all know how that turned out.
© Luko Gecko

The Fire Urchin is friendly to some species, however, It plays host to several crustaceans including the Coleman Shrimp (Periclimenes colmani) in the first photo and the Zebra Crab (Zebrida adamsii) in the second photo. These pretty little creatures take refuge on the sea urchin because it affords them protection with sizzling style.

To view some extraordinary close-ups of the Fire Urchin continue reading below!