Florida Sea Cucumber

Organisms / Invertebrates / Echinoderms

Holothuria floridana

Sunshine Key Resort and RV Park, Ohio Key (24.672N, 81.247W)

March 21, 2006

Photograph by Cory Gregory/Layla Cole

Descriptive Information

    Field Marks: Body is a cylinder that is rounded and looks like a cucumber. It resembles the Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber, but it is smaller than that species. Ours was a dark brown color, but some are dark gray or reddish. Its skin is thinner and rougher than the Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber. It is covered with bumps and has yellow tentacles on its head.
    Size: 5 inches (12.7 cm) after spitting out some water.
    General Habitat: Shallow water, sea-grass beds (Turtle-grass beds), near Mangrove Swamps.
    Range: Florida (has almost completely replaced Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber in this area) Jamaica, Western Caribbean & the Dutch Antilles (Kaplan 200).

Field Observations
We found our Sea Cucumber in the Turtle Grass in 6 inches of water. It squirted out water when we picked it up (this is done to make them smaller). It is not a very motile creature; it sat in the same spot in the bucket during observation. One of the Sea Cucumbers that we discovered was found buried in the sand. As it was being dug out of the sand, it squirted water out at its “attacker.” Once it was retrieved from the sand and refreshed with water, it continued to squirt unwary onlookers. This species is edible, according to our references, but nobody decided to cook one up. Sea Cucumbers may have an animal (Pearlfish) living inside of it, but since we found it at night, the Pearlfish would be out fishing. The Pearlfish lives in the Sea Cucumber in the day (by backing into its anus) and crawls out at night to fish.

Further Observations

Alden, Peter, Richard B. Cech, Amy Leventer, Gil Nelson, and Wendy B. Zomlefer. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.

Kaplan, Eugene H. Peterson Field Guide to Coral Reefs. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.

Additional Photographs/Videos
In the Mud

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