snorkeler holds an urchin in one hand and scissors in the other

A diver collects a long-spined sea urchin. Credit: Blake Gardner  

Our employee owners were recently part of a team of detectives on a mission to discover the killer of long-spined sea urchins, Diadema antillarumy, throughout the Caribbean Sea. The infected urchins lose their spines, leaving them more vulnerable to predation or dying after a few days. In 1983 the same species experienced mass mortality with identical symptoms, but scientists were unable to discover the culprit. Forty years later, the issue resurfaced, and a team of scientists joined forces to unlock the mystery.

CSS employee owners, supporting NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, joined a team of scientists in diving to collect urchin samples at 23 sites around the Caribbean Sea. By providing the samples, the researchers were then able to examine and test the urchins and compare them to healthy urchins to determine the cause of the mortality. 

Due to this rapid response, scientists determined the cause of the issue within three months  

Our staff coauthored this paper documenting the process. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adg3200

A long-spined urchin cut in half. Two gloved hands hold each half exposing the internal structure.

Researchers examine a long-spined sea urchin. Credit: Leslie Henderson

See More CSS Insights

Safety Support To First Responders

First responders put their lives on the line to help others, and our team helps safeguard their protection.  Our team on contract with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Respiratory Protection Program works with staff to test respirators and establish secure fits. Similarly, they provide these fit tests for fire department personnel on a regular…

Fish swimming around a coral reef

CSS Gains NOAA ProTech Awards 

CSS is pleased to announce that NOAA has awarded our new Joint Venture (JV) with Research Planning, Inc. (RPI) a prime contract for two Professional, Science, and Technical Services (ProTech) program domains: ProTech Oceans 2.0, and ProTech Fisheries 2.0. This new RPI-CSS JV results from a Small Business Administration-approved Mentor-Protégé Agreement between CSS and RPI…

Managing a Highly Viewed YouTube Channel

For more than 20 years we have supported the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which is part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Our staff manage the NCBI section of the National Library of Medicine YouTube channel, which has over 73,000 subscribers. One video tutorial our staff developed was to help users understand…