Prickly Redfish Thelenota ananas
This massive sea cucumber looks like an animated rug as it crawls slowly over the sea bed. The large, star-shaped papillae, called caruncles, that cover its body make it an unattractive proposition to potential predators. However, its appearance does not deter humans, and prickly redfish fetches high prices in parts of eastern Asia, where it is considered a delicacy. Large specimens reach up to 11 lb (5 kg) in weight and are traditionally collected by reef walking at low tide or by breath-hold diving. Other predators include various fish and crustaceans. The flat underside of the prickly redfish is covered with orange tube feet, which it uses to crawl over the sea bed in search of its main food, calcareous Halimeda seaweeds. When spawning, prickly redfish gather together and rear up, then release eggs or sperm into the water from small pores near the head end of the body.
- Class Holothuroidea
- Length Up to 28 in (70 cm)
- Depth 16–100 ft (5–30 m)
- Habitat Sandy areas of coral reefs
- Distribution Tropical waters of Indian Ocean and western Pacific