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Index of flora
Index of fauna
Kingdom Animale | Phylum Echinodermata | Class Holothuroidea
 
Sea Cucumbers
Almost all are detrital and/or filter feeders.

When threatened many species squirt out noxious and sticky latex-like threads which harden on contact with sea water, and entangle or irritate the potential predator. These are extremely difficult to remove.

If this fails, they will eject their entire digestive system (gut) in an attempt to scare the enemy and hence escape. The gut can then be regenerated.

Some individuals may harbour commensals inside their gut or respiratory system. Two prominent ones are the eel-like pearl fish (Carapus) and the pea crab (Pinnotheres).

Pentacta (length 6-8cm) is common on sandy/muddy areas. Phyllophorus (up to 10crn) (both F. Cucumariidae), which prefers muddier substrates, has been reported to be used to make a virtual "panacea" called "Air Gamat". The animals are slit, their body fluids collected and then left to stand for several weeks before sale.

Most famous of all is H. scabra, the Beche-de-Mer or Trepang (F. Holothuridae) (length 15-20cm), a much sought after delicacy. Degutted, cleaned and dried, they fetch good market prices. They prefer sandy areas.

The reef cucumbers (mostly F. Holothuridae) grow to larger sizes (length up to 43cm). Their colours vary between brown and black, and are often seen in large numbers in the lower littoral zone, usually, among Sargassum covered rocks. Some of the reef species have been reported to contain a poison called holothurin and should not be eaten.
Photo by Tan Bee Hong
Pentacta



Photo by Tan Bee Hong
Phyllophorus



Photo by Tan Bee Hong
Holothuria scabra



Photo by Tan Bee Hong
Holothuria sp.
Introduction
Shore environment
 
From A Guide to Seashore Life by Dr Leo W H Tan and Peter K L Ng
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP

@Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre