Wednesday 4 November 2015

Magnum Sea Cucumber

Image: Nick Hobgood
Neothyonidium magnum
Could it be? Could it really be? A Sea Cucumber that isn't crushingly unattractive and may even be sort of... pretty?

How can they possibly achieve such a thing? How can a glorified length of abandoned colon possibly be anything other than nasty, gruesome and wrong?

Image: Bernard DUPONT
The answer is that they live almost entirely underground!

Magnum Sea Cucumbers can reach 30 cm (a foot) long but you wouldn't know it because they live in burrows in soft, sandy sediment in southeast Asia. All you can see of them is a collection of thick, branching, oral tentacles surrounding a cavernous maw.

The tentacles are quite lovely, really. They look like one of the less squirmy and horrifying Basket Stars, or maybe a circle of gloomy trees in a dark, melancholy scene.

Video: liquidguru

We're still talking about a Sea Cucumber, though, so the obvious question is: where's the dirty bit?

The dirty bit is when they get their melancholic trees covered in muck and then put them in their mouth, one by one. Yup! They hold out those fluffy tentacles to filter tiny crumbs of food from the water and then, once sufficiently laden with detritus, they stuff one of them into their oversized, bucket-like mouth. Now smaller, branched tentacles set to work scraping off the crumbs so they can drop into open gob below.

It's a nice system, really. And just a little bit mesmerising, too!

Image: Nick Hobgood
All in all, it's a good compromise I think. Magnum Sea Cucumbers are kinda pretty, kinda nasty and kinda mesmerising. Surely a career in pop music awaits!


TexWisGirl said...

yeah, still kinda nasty. :)

Esther said...

It's a sea cucumber trying to imitate a basket star...and doing a pretty good job of it too!

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: Haha! They can never truly escape it!

@Esther: Yeah! I would never believe if I didn't see it!

Unknown said...

I saw one in Indonesia! Very