Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumbers Facts and Information

Taxonomy [Phylum: Echinodermata] [Class: Holothuroidea] [Family: Echinozoa]

Scientists are optimistic that the Tropical Sea Cucumber may be able to help in the battle against harmful climate change to our coral reefs.

The sausage-shaped sea cucumbers are among the largest invertebrates that are found on coral reefs and have an ability to reduce the acidity content in the ocean which causes problems for coral growth.

Sea Cucumbers wander sloth-like on the sea bed and as they ingest small particles of sand, they are processed naturally inside the cucumber's gut.

This natural digestion process creates faeces which increase the pH levels around the reef.

As the sea cucumbers defecate, the positive effect for the water close to the reefs may be helping corals to combat the negative affects of global climate change, particularly the harmful high levels of acid in our oceans.

Sea Cucumbers Facts and InformationAnother benefit of Cucumber's waste product from digestion would be calcium carbonate.

Scientifically known as CaC03, calcium carbonate as a very important component for the survival of the reef because corals need to accumulate high levels of CaC03.

Sea cucumbers and other tropical 'bio-eroders' are thought to be significant contributors to the necessary turnover of calcium carbonate.

As cucumbers digest sand, they also produce ammonia which helps to fertilise the near vicinity and provides important nutrients which encourages coral formation.

How Do Sea Cucumbers Help the Ocean?

There are about 1,250 different species of sea cucumber that exist in the oceans and they have an important role underwater. For example, the poop of Thelenota anax has benefits for the ecosystem.

They use tentacles to pick up sediment and stuff it into their mouth. Sea cucumbers digest organic material and discard everything else.

Thus, what comes out it cleaner than when it went in. So, the 'cleaner' sand may help to prevent algal blooms.

This can cause fish to suffocate due to a lack of oxygen. Furthermore, subtropical seagrass beds seem to grow healthier if sea cucumbers are living in the area.

In a nutshell, coral reefs benefit from the alkalinity of the droppings from sea cucmbers. It helps to 'buffer' them from the effects of ocean acidification.

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