California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus)
… is the largest sea cucumber species along the Pacific Northwest coast. The species feeds on organic detritus and small organisms, which it ingests with bottom sediments. The primary predators of P. californicus (also known as are the sea stars Pycnopodia helianthoides and Solaster endeca, but the species is also occasionally eaten by sea otters and man.
Unlike many tropical sea cucumbers, P. californicus does not store substances toxic to predators. The hindgut bears a pair of highly branched diverticula, which project into the coelomic cavity of the body and serve as “water lungs”. Oxygenated water is pumped into these respiratory trees in severa successive inhalations and then expelled in one powerful exhalation.
Breeding occurs in the summer. Development is indirect. The sperm have spherical heads and an unusually low DNA content. The fertilized eggs develop into auricularia larvae which metamorphose into doliolaria larva which settle. The pelagic phase lasts from 7 to 13 weeks in the laboratory.
Populations of P. californicus in the Puget Sound eviscerate (photo) during October and November and then regenerate new sets of organs. Evisceration may also occur if the animals are kept in warm or stale water. The scale worm Arctonoe pulchra may occur as a commensal on P. californicus.
A 5 cm-long scaleworm on the underside of a 2 ft-long holothurian (sea cucumber) at 1,526 m. Image captured by the Little Hercules remotely operated vehicle on a site referred to as ‘Baruna Jaya IV - Site 1’ on August 1, 2010.
Quest For Illegal Sea Harvest Divides Community in Mexico
by Karla Zabludovsky
DZILAM DE BRAVO, Mexico — Whispers of high-speed boat chases, harpoon battles on the open sea and divers who dived deep and never re-emerged come and go around here like an afternoon gale.
What has wrapped this village in such hostility?
The spiky, sluglike marine animals are bottom feeders that are not even consumed in Mexico, but they are a highly prized delicacy half a world away, in China, setting off a maritime gold rush up and down the Yucatán Peninsula…
(read more: NY TImes) (photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas)
Most kindergarteners can tell you that an animal eats with its mouth, not its butt.
One species of sea cucumber, however, didn’t appear to get the memo: Scientists have discovered that the giant California sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) actually uses its anus as a second mouth.
Scientists already knew that the marine invertebrate, which lives in the shallow ocean waters off the Pacific coast of North America, breathes with its butt. Because they don’t have lungs, sea cucumbers rely on respiratory trees, a set of long tubes running down either side of the body with a lot of different branches. P. californicus is shaped like a hollow tube, with a mouth at one end and its anus at the other.
The respiratory trees receive oxygen when water is pumped through their anus using the muscles of their cloaca, an opening at the end of the intestinal tract.The 20 in. long (50-cm-long) animal is no slouch: It can pump 3.5 to 4 cups of water per hour through its anus, transferring the oxygen from the water into its respiratory trees, which then oxygenates its cells…
The velvety red of a drifting jelly, the brick red of a vampire squid…many deep-sea creatures exhibit the colors of Valentine’s Day. When pursuing the prey object of their desire, deep-sea creatures may use red as camouflage. Wavelengths of light in the red end of the visible spectrum are preferentially absorbed by seawater, and therefore red colors appear black in the deep sea. Red animals disappear into the darkness, enabling them to ambush unsuspecting prey or avoid a hungry predator.
The bright red lights you can see in some of the clips (e.g., the sea star at 01:22) are lasers from MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and used to estimate sizes. The lasers are 29 cm apart.
Check out thistranslucent holothurian (sea cucumber)…
You can actually see its gut through its transparent body wall. Sea cukes feed by using their tentacles to trap particles in the water column. This specimen was found in the deep sea, on the Mid Cayman Ridge in the Caribbean Sea.
Whale skeleton being colonized and eaten by by critters on the seafloor of Monterey canyon. In this scene one can see dozens of Sea Pigs (Scotoplanes sp.), a kind of deep sea sea cucumber with little tentacles.
Lothodid-type spiked crab with spiked holothurian and carnivorous anemone. Image captured August 5, 2010 by the Little Hercules ROV at 751 meters depth on a new seamount mapped by Baruna Jaya IV during the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition.
Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010.
A rare sea cucumber demonstrates uncharacteristic swimming skill in the blackness of the deep Atlantic. The creature is one of ten suspected new species found during a recent survey of the region, where the Gulf Stream—a powerful current that carries warm water northeast across the Atlantic—cuts across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge via deep canyons.
The survey revealed extremely diverse and abundant animal life in the area, according to the expedition team. They found very different groups of species living north and south of the Gulf Stream, and on opposite sides of the ridge. “There were startling differences over short distances,” team member Monty Priede said.
Another new variety of swimming sea cucumber was spotted journeying along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during the recent (2010) MAR-ECO expedition. Deep-sea sea cucumbers are normally found on the ocean floor. But the study team saw several species high on steep slopes of the vast underwater mountain range running the length of the Atlantic Ocean.
“We’ve always thought of them as slow-crawling animals, but they are actually capable of swimming,” marine biologist Monty Priede, said. “This is quite important on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, because otherwise there’s a risk of starving if they get stuck on a ledge somewhere.”