Sunday 1 January 2012

Sea Pig

Image: MBARI
You know what I find really weird about the Sea Pig? The translucence, sure. The tentacles, of course. The legs, most definitely. But the really weird thing is that it's a Sea Cucumber who has just enough extra body parts to look like some other, completely different animal who has lost a whole load of body parts.

It's as if a Sea Cucumber from the deep sea heard stories about barnyard animals and made a valiant effort to emulate them.

I sure hope they're not too emotionally wedded to the idea of looking normal, because they've failed miserably. Poor, old Sea Pig! Will you ever win?

Looking at the rest of the family: no, probably not. Sea Pigs are 3 or 4 members of the genus Scotoplanes, which is in the order Elasipodida. This is the same order as those swimming Sea Cucumbers and that other chunk of nasty called Laetmogone violacea.

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr
Our free range Sea Pigs are provided all the space they need for a natural, stress-free life.

Perhaps the Sea Pig was trying to become the 'white sheep' of the family? I think the problem was that they mixed it all up with a bit of pig and cow, completely forgot about the big, beautiful eyes and just ad libbed a terrible perversion of the rest.

One immediate frustration to the Sea Pig's barnyard efforts is food. You just don't get much grass 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) beneath the surface of the ocean. Some Sea Pigs have been spotted as deep as 6,000 m (19,685 ft), which is really making it hard for themselves.

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr
High quality mud-feed gives our Sea Pigs a beautiful, natural sheen and deliciously soft, natural flesh.

Their solution is... not really a solution. They still eat the same detritus that has sank from the ocean surface and accumulated into grim ooze on the sea floor. Being an Elasipodid, they also have the big tentacles squirming out of their face for picking up clumps of the stuff to eat.

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr
Naturally translucent, so you know exactly what you're getting!

The really weird thing is that Sea Pigs are actually picky eaters! They don't take any old muck, oh no! They confine themselves to just the freshest, tastiest muck the abyss has to offer. That's muck that is a maximum of 100 days old. I got edible biscuits that are older than that! I think they're edible...

Sea Pig gaily frolics in the midst of desolation.
It's high jinks and escapades galore!

Unlike actual pigs, Sea Pigs also seem rather precious about the cleanliness of their skin. They don't go laying about in the mud, that's their swill you're talking about! Instead, they're propped up on too many legs. These things are inflated with water inside cavities within the skin. I guess they're not so much massive tube feet, but rather tentacles with the tube feet apparatus hidden under the skin.

Whatever they are, poor old Sea Pig is foiled again by the all-engulfing shadow of his echinoderm forefathers.

Heart-warming tomfoolery in the face of forlorn bleakness. Just because you live in a post apocalyptic landscape doesn't mean you can't eat the floor and enjoy yourself!

Another thing about Sea Pigs is that they travel in herds that can number in the hundreds! It's like Sea Cattle or something. It's not known if they are social and enjoy each others company or if there's just a ridiculously huge number of them.

It has been shown that their population numbers can fluctuate massively, rising or falling 100-fold over the years. This seems to be based on food availability, which is altered by the changing climate at the surface through events like the El Nino. Perhaps what they need is a good shepherd?

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr
Our Sea Pigs are given the space they need to roam, get together with their friends or catch up on some alone time. Whatever comes natural!

One interesting fact is that herds of Sea Pig have been spotted all facing the same direction, into the current. They may well have sniffed out some good eating somewhere and are following whatever appalling excuse for a nose they have.

Then there's those antler things. They probably don't slowly run and try to smash each other in the head with their head to demonstrate how incredibly sexy the male migraine can be, so I don't know what those things are for. Did they want to look like a bull or a ram? Maybe they just threw them together and ended up with something not unlike CatDog.

Image source
Snails! The bane of our lives. We destroy them with all the weaponry modern chemistry can provide. Naturally.

One last thing to mention is parasites. Sea Pigs get snails that burrow into their flesh and feed on their juices. Snails! Also there are crustaceans that get in and eat their internal organs. ARGH! They can't even do suffering right!

Image: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Invertebrate Zoology
. When your hunger is abyssal, only an all-natural Sea Pig will do!

Maybe that's what this whole charade is really about? They want humans to come down there and provide them with some good animal husbandry! I hope they realise that we usually want something in return for such efforts...


TexWisGirl said...

freaky little guys. remind me of the push me-pull me. :)

Emily said...

Or an obese Hallucigenia:
(in the Cambrian era, half a billion years ago, sea life was somehow even weirder than it is now.)

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: I love 'em! It's a very unexpected brand of weird.

@Emily: That's just crazy! It seems to have mixed up with some kind of ankylosaur. Thanks for the link!

Kali said...

Hi Comment 1,

Enjoying your blog! You are probably already aware of this, but just in case, here's an Aussie news article about new deep sea delights in Antarctica.

Cheers! Keep 'em coming!

Joseph JG said...

Hi Kali! I have indeed heard of this and it'll be coming up fairly soon I hope. There are just SO many monsters to catch up on!

NaomiT said...

Now imortalised by thr Octonauts

Joseph JG said...

:D I haven't seen a lot of the Octonauts but they immortalise a lot of good stuff!

Atraxi said...


Joseph JG said...