sea cucumber


sea cucumber
any echinoderm of the class Holothuroidea, having a long, leathery body with tentacles around the anterior end.
[1595-1605]

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Any of 1,100 species of echinoderms constituting the class Holothurioidea, found in all oceans, mostly in shallow water.

The soft, cylindrical body is 0.75 in. (2 cm) to 6.5 ft (2 m) long and 0.4–8 in. (1–20 cm) thick. It is usually dull, dark, and often warty. The internal skeleton consists merely of numerous tiny bits in the skin. Most species have five rows of tube feet extending from mouth to anus. The 10 or more retractile tentacles surrounding the mouth are used for taking food (mud containing nutrients or small aquatic animals) or burrowing. Locomotion is sluglike. See also shellfish.

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 any of the 1,200 species of marine invertebrates constituting the class Holothuroidea (or Holothurioidea) of the phylum Echinodermata. The soft, cylindrical body, 2 to 200 cm (about 3/4 inch to 6 1/2 feet) long and 1 to 20 cm (0.4–8 inches) thick, usually is a dull, dark colour and often warty, thus resembling a cucumber. The internal skeleton is reduced to numerous distinctively shaped, tiny calcareous structures (ossicles) in the skin. Most species have five rows of tube feet extending from mouth to anus. The anal opening is used for both respiration and discharging wastes. The 10 or more retractile tentacles surrounding the mouth are used for food-taking (mud containing nutrients or small aquatic animals) or burrowing. Locomotion is usually sluglike, although some deepwater species can swim.

      Many sea cucumbers can expel their internal organs from the anus and grow new ones; this may be a device for escape from a predator, or it may occur for physiological reasons. Some species also expel specialized sticky filaments that ensnare or confuse an enemy. Sea cucumbers shelter pearlfish (Carapus species) in the anal cavity, with the head of the fish extruding. Members of a number of sea cucumber species exude a toxin that is lethal to small animals but not to humans; South Sea islanders place sea cucumber juices in water to kill or stupefy fish. For the use of sea cucumbers as food, see bêche-de-mer.

      Sea cucumbers are found in all oceans, mostly in shallow water but sometimes at depths of many thousands of metres. They are best represented in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific. The 80 to 100 species of large, warty cucumbers of the genus Holothuria are especially abundant on coral reefs. Most species of Holothuria are “deposit feeders” similar to earthworms; they ingest sediment to extract the organic constituents.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sea cucumber — Sea cu cum*ber (Zo[ o]l.) Any large holothurian, especially one of those belonging to the genus {Pentacta}, or {Cucumaria}, as the common American and European species. ({P. frondosa}). [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sea cucumber — n. HOLOTHURIAN …   English World dictionary

  • Sea cucumber — For the food product made from sea cucumber, see Sea cucumber (food). Sea cucumber A sea cucumber from the Mediterranean Sea Scientific classification …   Wikipedia

  • sea cucumber — Trepang Tre*pang , n. [Malay tr[=i]pang.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of several species of large holothurians, some of which are dried and extensively used as food in China; called also {b[^e]che de mer}, {sea cucumber}, and {sea slug}. [Written also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sea cucumber —   Loli (for various kinds, see loli and entries that follow it), weli, weliweli, ma ihole, kūnounou, hulali, hūlalilali, ūpalu, kūneuneu, unae, ka ukama kai. See ex. of word magic, iloli.    ♦ Catch the sea cucumber by mistake, a blind fish, hopu …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

  • sea cucumber — sea′ cu cumber n. ivt any echinoderm of the class Holothuroidea, having a long, body and tentacles around the mouth • Etymology: 1595–1605 …   From formal English to slang

  • sea cucumber — n. marine invertebrate with a long body shaped like a cucumber …   English contemporary dictionary

  • sea-cucumber — n. Trepang, sea slug, sea pudding, bêche de mer …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • sea cucumber — noun Date: 1841 any of a class (Holothurioidea) of echinoderms having a tough muscular elongate body with tentacles surrounding the mouth called also holothurian …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sea cucumber — noun an echinoderm of the class Holothuroidea, with an elongated body and leathery skin. Syn: trepang …   Wiktionary


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