These delicate white objects can sometimes be seen washed up on sandy beaches. These are the shells, or tests, of the Sea Potato (Echinocardium cordatum). This member of the sea urchin family like to bury itself in sandy beaches well below the low tide mark and is common to all coasts around the UK and Ireland.
Like so many other creatures that bury themselves in the sand, the sea potato creates feeding and waste tubes up to the surface. It’s tube feet collects debris which has deposited on the sea floor and funnels it down for the urchin to feed on.
The sea potato when alive is covered in thin, flattened spines that give it a furry appearance. The sandy location that this urchin calls home makes it stand out from relatives who prefer rocky areas. It is also unusual in that it is not circular.
The picture was taken on Duncannon beach.