Common Name: California Sea Cucumber
Scientific Name: Parastichopus californicus
Species: P. californicus
Californicus phosphorus is the scientific name for the California sea cucumber. There are a lot of cool things about a California sea cucumber. Like the fact that they look spiky and if you touch them they would hurt you, but actually there as soft as leather, even so gentle enough to carry it in your hand. The California sea cucumber has a cucumber shape. Having its cucumber shape is where it got its name. Some can be long and skinny, or even short and small. There can be many shapes and sizes. They can grow up to 50 cm long. The skin is covered with warty bumps or soft spikes.
When cucumbers are threatened they contract their muscles and shoot out water from their body making their body shorter, thicker, and to protect it from predators. These animals feed on tiny plankton or dead and decaying organic material algae. They feed as they move along the bottom traveling up to almost 4 meters a day. They eat and gain energy from bacteria or fungi. They also cease feeding and become dominant from September to early March.
There are many types of sea cucumbers some are the California sea cucumber, the sweet potato, warty, white orange, and slipper. The most common colors of a sea cucumber would be red, brown, and orange. There could be different shades of colors or patches or there could even be some white ones.
Some predators are the sunflower stars. They’re hardly eaten because when they’re scared they throw out their sticky internal organs to distract any predators. Then they can grow new innards back spontaneously. Some people even believe that the sea cucumber doesn’t have any predators. There are some close relatives to the cucumber. Their close relatives are sea stars, brittle stars, sea urchins, and sand dollars. If you see sea urchins have spikes but if you grab them they would hurt not like sea cucumbers. They all share a characteristic. Like they all crawl slowly on the sea floor.
Author: Kathy H
Photo Credit: Digital photo by Dr. Bradley Stevens and Eric Munk http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Kodiak/photo/miscuke.htm