Edible Sea Cucumber
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Corals and Other Invertebrates

Edible Sea Cucumber

Holothuria edulis

Distribution

Tropical to warm temperate latitudes of the Indo-Pacific Oceans

Ecosystem/Habitat

Coral reefs and seagrass beds and surrounding sandy areas

Feeding Habits

Scavenger

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Taxonomy

Class Holothuroidea (sea cucmbers), Family Holothuriidae (fleshy sea cucumbers)

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Sea cucumbers are a type of marine invertebrate related to the sea urchins and sea stars, collectively known as the echinoderms. Echinoderms are the closest living invertebrate relatives of the vertebrates, so our closest invertebrate cousin might just be a sea cucumber. The edible sea cucumber gets its name from the fact that it is a fisheries species, eaten in many places around the world, particularly throughout Asia.

Like most sea cucumbers, the edible sea cucumber is a scavenger. It crawls along soft bottoms near coral reefs and seagrass beds ingesting sand and mud in its path. It separates out and digests any plant or animal matter and passes the sand, leaving a trail of clean sand behind. The edible sea cucumber feeds throughout the day and night, resting occasionally.

This species reproduces through a behavior known as broadcast spawning, where females release eggs and males release sperm into the water column at the same time. This method increases the likelihood that eggs will become successfully fertilized and that fertilized eggs will not be eaten by egg predators on the reef surface.

Though considered a fisheries species, populations of edible sea cucumbers are generally considered stable, and scientists believe the species to be one of least concern.

 

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Additional Resources:

IUCN Red List

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