|Giant California Sea Cucumber|
Parastichopus californicus, more commonly known at the Giant California Sea Cucumber, is a member of the phylum Echinodermata. Being related to sea stars and urchins, Parastichopus californicus has 5 rows of tube feet, limited mobility and a primitive digestive system. As part of its interesting defense technique, Parastichopus californicus can expel stomach contents and parts of its digestive system when threatened. This sea cucumber can be found from southern California all the way up to the gulf of Alaska.
Parastichopus californicus is cylindrically shaped organism and can grow to around 45cm in length and 5cm in width. Five rows of tube feet can be found on the lower side of its body, while conical papillae (small, thorn-like projections of the dermis) are evenly distributed across the upper surface of the body. Parastichopus californicus has a very soft body and ranges from a dull reddish brown to bright reds, oranges and dull yellows. The papillae are often red-tipped and darker than the rest of its body. "Branched" tentacles used to aid feeding can be found surrounding the mouth.
1. Jennifer Telnak -- Intertidal Marine Invertebrates of the South Puget Sound 2. Sarah Trefry, Lester B. Pearson College Dec. 2001 -- Racerocks (website)