Sea Cucumber
(Parastichopus californicus)

image of a Sea Cucumber

Image ID: 164-00

Other shots:  image of a Sea Cucumber
Comments : These are EVERYWHERE in the Puget Sound. This one is feeding by licking gunk off the rock substrate (this is the mouth end of the animal).
Common name : Sea Cucumber
Scientific Name : Parastichopus californicus
Location Found : KVI Tower Reef, Central Puget Sound
Actual Size : 16 inches long
Camera Used : Canon D30 digital in Ikelite Housing
Natural History :
Natural History : Notice the tube feet on the ventral surface. The sea cucumber has two methods of movement, one just like a starfish (these are in fact close relatives of starfish) creeping along on tube feet, and the other with a wild jackknifing motion. Sunflower Stars in particular evoke the jackknifing motion, as they will capture and eat sea cucumbers.

Another threat response the sea cucumber has it to eviscerate itself, basically throwing up it's guts. This serves to distract predators, who stop to feed on the guts, and the sea cucumber can make it's getaway.

I have made sea cucumber chowder from the five ventral muscles, and found that the harvesting of the muscles is more work than it's worth.