Sea Cucumber

© Johan Boshoff

Name

Sea Cucumber (Holothuroidea)

Size

Sea cucumbers can be as long as 3m.

Identification

Sea cucumbers have long, sausage-shaped bodies and leathery skins. Its mouth is located at the one end of its body surrounded by ten to 12 tentacles, and its anus at the other. They are mostly dull brown to black in colour, and some are red, orange or purple.

General Info

Sea cucumbers belong to the Holothuroidea family which falls under the Echinodermata phylum class. This includes sea urchins and all the starfish – sea, feather and brittle. Their calcium carbonate endoskeleton can contract and expand, and defend themselves by expelling filaments from the anus or their stomach, which then regrows. Sea cucumbers have five rows of tubular feet on which they move very slowly. Some, like the sea apple, attach themselves to rocks. They are pelagic spawners.

Diet

Sea cucumbers feed on plankton and detritus.

Distribution

They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Edible sea cucumber (Holotuhria edulis)
Black and white sea cucumber (Holothuria marmoratus)
Prickly red sea cucumber (Stichopus sp.)

© Johan Boshoff