Friday 3 October 2014

Warty Sea Cucumber

Image: Richard Ling
Parastichopus parvimensis
Oh, great. What new abomination do sea cucumbers have in store for us this time?

Sea cucumbers are like pieces of intestinal tract that escaped the tyranny of anatomy and made a life for themselves on the sea floor, very slowly squirming around and feasting on the very bacteria-infested muck they wallow in.

Image: Travis
Warty Sea Cucumbers can reach over 30 cm (a foot) long
The poor diet and lack of exercise certainly takes its toll, not least on their complexion. Sea cucumbers are often covered in all manner of spots, wrinkles and puffy areas. So when a sea cucumber is named after its particularly bad skin, it's time to take notice!

The Warty Sea Cucumber does not disappoint...

Image: Steve Lonhart/NOAA MBNMS
They live along the coast of Mexico and California
They're covered in tiny, black-tipped papillae that look like an infestation of bulging blackheads. Even worse, dotted among them are a collection of enormous spiky boils that appear fit to BURST. Where's a Cosmetic Surgeonfish when you need one?.

I know what you're thinking and no, Warty Sea Cucumbers don't defend themselves by popping their boils and squirting pus at their assailants. They use good, old fashioned evisceration instead, where they tear up their insides and thrust internal organs in the face of mortified predators.

Image: Roban Kramer
Not only that, but every autumn they find somewhere safe to hide and kick back while their internal organs atrophy. Over the next two to four weeks they all grow back, good as new!

Pity they can't do that with their skin.


Esther said...

For about five seconds I thought the Cosmetic Surgeonfish was an actual species of fish...OTL

Joseph JG said...

Hahaha! Sorry! Surgeonfish are real but I don't think any of them have gone into that specialism

Porakiya said...

Too bad they CAN'T launch questionable liquids from those big boils. That'd be so wrong on so many levels. Also, for a moment, I thought it had hundreds of black spikes/spines.

TexWisGirl said...

i should try to eat and view your posts at the same time...

Joseph JG said...

Those are the black-tipped papillae but they're not really spiny like on a sea urchin. It would be REALLY cool if nasty gunk poured out of them! It would be one of those kind of funny/wholly disgusting deals!

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: Live dangerously why don't you!

Unknown said...

I don't think I'll ever get used to the idea of the evisceration thing.

Joseph JG said...

It shouldn't be possible!