Sea cucumber Facts

Sea cucumber Facts
Sea cucumbers belong to the group of animals called echinoderms. Their closest relatives are starfish and sea urchins. There are over 1250 species of sea cucumbers that can be found in oceans throughout the world. Sea cucumbers usually live on the sea floor. Only few species live near the surface of the water. These animals are used as delicacy and as a part of folk medicine in Asia. Despite increased exploitation of sea cucumbers, they are still numerous in the wild. Sea cucumbers are not on the list of endangered species.
Interesting Sea cucumber Facts:
Size of sea cucumber depends on the species. Smallest species can reach 0.12 inches, while largest species can reach 3.3 feet in length. Most species are usually 3.9 to 12 inches long.
Sea cucumber has elongated, cylindrical body. Depending on the species, sea cucumber can be red, black, blue, green or brown in color.
Sea cucumbers have soft bodies even though they have some sort of skeleton below the surface of the body. Skeleton usually consists of plates and spines. These structures can be exposed and used against predators (sea cucumbers are not tasty meal when their bodies suddenly harden).
Sea cucumbers use yet another interesting technique when they are faced with danger. They are able to expel internal organs along with toxic substance (called holothurin) toward the predators. All missing organs will be regenerated in the next 1.5 to 5 weeks.
Sea cucumbers have five rows of paired tentacles on the surface of the body. They are used for locomotion and for feeding.
Sea cucumbers do not have brain. Their nervous system consists of a ring and several nerves. Their senses are also poorly developed.
Sea cucumbers breathe via their anus. Branched network of hollow tubules absorb oxygen from the water that circulates through the anus.
Sea cucumbers are able to modulate the shape of their body when needed. They can pass through tight spaces thanks to this feature.
Diet of sea cucumbers consists of decaying organic matter (from the sea floor) and plankton. Sea cucumbers play important role in cleansing of the nature by removing remains of dead animals.
Sea cucumbers are nocturnal creatures (active during the night).
Sea cucumbers can be often seen in large colonies. 1000 sea cucumbers per one square meter can be found along the coasts of New Zealand.
Sea cucumber are able for self-reproduction (they can produce offspring without partner). However, they prefer to reproduce by mixing with other sea cucumbers.
Fertilization (fusion of reproductive cells) occurs in the water after release of huge amount of eggs and sperm cells.
Fertilized eggs undergo several larval stages before they turn into adult sea cucumbers.
Lifespan of sea cucumber depends on the species. Most species live between 5 and 10 years in the wild.

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