What Is a Sea Cucumber?

livescience.com | 10/16/2019 | Rachel Ross - Live Science Contributor
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Sea cucumbers are marine invertebrates that live on the seafloor. They're named for their unusual oblong shape that resembles a fat cucumber. Although people occasionally eat sea cucumbers, these chubby, worm-like sea creatures aren't related to their namesake fruit (and they wouldn't make a very appetizing salad topping if you were expecting a crunchy, refreshing bite).

There are about 1,250 species of sea cucumber, all of which belong to the taxonomic class Holothuroidea. This class falls under the Echinodermata phylum, which also includes many other well-known marine invertebrates, such as sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars, according to National Geographic.

Sea - Cucumbers - Size - Three-quarters - Inch

Sea cucumbers range in size from about three-quarters of an inch (1.9 centimeters) to more than 6 feet long (1.8 meters) and live throughout the world's oceans, from nearshore shallow waters to the ocean's deepest trenches, according to the National Wildlife Federation. No matter the depth, their main residence is on the ocean floor, often partially buried in sand.

Sea cucumbers, like all other echinoderms, exhibit radial symmetry, according to the University of California, Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology (UCMP). But instead of having five arms arranged in a circle like sea stars or sand dollars, sea cucumbers have five rows of tiny feet that run lengthwise down their bodies, from mouth to ****. Their tube-shaped feet serve mainly to anchor the limbless creatures to the seafloor, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Sea cucumbers move across the seafloor by changing the water pressure in their feet; they increase the amount of water in their feet to stretch them out and release the water to contract them.

Cucumbers

What do sea cucumbers eat?

As the creatures slowly meander about, they use the extra 20 to 30 little tube feet around their mouths to shovel everything in, including sand. They feed primarily on tiny...
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