From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The sea cucumber is an echinoderm of the class Holothuroidea, with an elongated body and leathery skin, which is found on the sea floor worldwide. It is so named because of its cucumber-like shape. Like all echinoderms, sea cucumbers have an endoskeleton just below the skin, but this can actually be absent in some species.
Sea cucumber in Mahé, Seychelles ejects sticky filaments from the anus in self-defence.
Sea cucumbers are generally scavengers, feeding on debris in the benthic zone of the ocean. Exceptions include pelagic cucumbers and the species Rynkatropa pawsoni, which has a commensal relationship with deep-sea anglerfish. The diet of most cucumbers consists of plankton and decaying organic matter found in the sea. Some sea cucumbers position themselves in currents and catch food that flows by with their open tentacles. They also sift through the bottom sediments using their tentacles. Sea Cucumbers live in Tropical Reefs.
Some species of coral-reef sea cucumbers within the order Aspidochirotida can defend themselves by expelling their sticky cuvierian tubules (enlargements of the respiratory tree that float freely in the coelom) to entangle potential predators. When startled, these cucumbers may expel some of them through a tear in the wall of the cloaca in an autotomic process known as evisceration. Replacement tubules grow back in one-and-a-half to five weeks, depending on the species.
They can be found in great numbers on the deep sea floor, where they often make up the majority of the animal biomass. The body of deep water holothurians is made of a tough gelatinous tissue with unique properties that makes the animals able to control their own buoyancy, making it possible for them to either live on the ocean floor or to float over it to move to new locations with a minimum of energy.
In more shallow waters, sea cucumbers can form dense populations. The strawberry sea cucumber (Squamocnus brevidentis) of New Zealand lives on rocky walls around the southern coast of the South Island where populations sometimes reach densities of 1,000 animals per square metre. For this reason, one such area in Fiordland is simply called the strawberry fields.
Sea cucumbers extract oxygen from water in a pair of ‘respiratory trees’ that branch off the cloaca just inside the anus, so that they ‘breathe’ by drawing water in through the anus and then expelling it. A variety of fish, most commonly pearl fish, have evolved a commensalistic symbiotic relationship with sea cucumbers in which the pearl fish will live in sea cucumber’s cloaca using it for protection from predation, a source of food (the nutrients passing in and out of the anus from the water), and to develop into their adult stage of life. Many polychaete worms and crabs have also specialized to use the cloacal respiratory trees for protection by living inside the sea cucumber.
Ten percent of the blood cell pigment of the sea cucumber is vanadium. Just as the horseshoe crab has blue blood rather than red blood (colored by iron in hemoglobin) because of copper in the hemocyanin pigment, the blood of the sea cucumber is yellow because of the vanadium in the vanabin pigment. Nonetheless, there is no evidence that vanabins carry oxygen, in contrast to hemoglobin and hemocyanin.
Sea cucumbers reproduce by releasing sperm and ova into the ocean water. Depending on conditions, one organism can produce thousands of gametes.
The largest American species is Holothuria floridana, which abounds just below low-water mark on the Florida reefs.
The most common way to separate the subclasses is by looking at their oral tentacles. Subclass Dendrochirotacea has 8-30 oral tentacles, subclass Aspidochirotacea has 10-30 leaflike or shieldlike oral tentacles, while subclass Apodacea may have up to 25 simple or pinnate oral tentacles and is also characterized by reduced or absent tube feet, as in the order Apodida.
SO THERE IT IS!!!!!
and if you actually read all that, it is really quite interesting. I still haven’t figured out how to simply link to something, so I just pasted that all in there.
Isn’t it amazing that there is just all kinds of stuff in the ocean just ripe for the taking!!!!! and it’s FREE , too.