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Cucumaria miniata - Orange sea cucumber

Geographic range:
Alaska to Mexico

Key features:
Bright orange color and highly branched tentacular array.

Similar species:
--

Habitat(s):
bay (rocky shore), Continental shelf, exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Cucumaria miniata - Orange sea cucumber image

 

Primary common name:
Orange sea cucumber
  ITIS code:
158204
Synonymous name(s):
Cucumaria albida
General grouping:
Sea stars, urchins, cucumbers, sand dollars, brittle stars


Geographic Range
Range description:
Sitka, Alaska to Mexico
Northern latitude extent:
--
  Southern latitude extent:
--
East longitude extent:
--
  West longitude extent:
--


Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
meters OR -2 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
meters OR 0 feet
Intertidal height notes:
Can be intertidal in northern part of range, but primarily subtidal from central California and southward.


Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Maximum depth:
225 meters OR feet
Subtidal depth notes:
Common inhabitant of kelp forests.


Habitats
Habitat(s):
bay (rocky shore), Continental shelf, exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Habitat notes:
In cracks, crevices, or under large rocks. Rarely with the entire body exposed.


Abundance
Relative abundance:
Common


Species Description
General description:
Cucumaria miniata is a bright orange sea cucumber, with an elaborate array of 10 finely branched oral tentacles. Several branchlets off the main axis of each tentacle begin about one-third of the way up from the base, and the branchlets have additional branchings, leading to an incredibly large surface area for capturing organic detritus and planktonic prey.

The main body, which is elongate and smooth, has five rows of tube feet, each 4-6 tube feet across. The base and length of each tube foot is often a darker orange, verging on brown. However the tips of the tube feet tend to be very pale orange, almost white.
Distinctive features:
The bright orange color of this cucumber differentiates it from all other species along the central California coast. The tube feet are aligned in five distinct rows along the main body axis.
Size:
Length: to 20 cm
Body diameter: 3-5 cm
Tentacular diameter: to 15 cm


Natural History
General natural history:
This bright orange sea cucumber is most commonly observed from the anterior, with its ten highly branched oral tentacles extended out to filter the water. The rest of the body, which is cylindrical and elongate, is usually clinging tightly to the walls of the crevice or crack surrounding the cucumber. When disturbed, the tentacles retract into the oral cavity, completely disappearing and the cucumber withdraws, folding into itself and receding back into the protection of the crevice.
Predator(s):
Predators may include sea stars such as Solaster.
Prey:
Detritus and plankton.


Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Sessile suspension feeder
Feeding behavior notes:
As a sessile suspension feeder, Cucumaria miniata relies on its highly branched tentacles (high surface area) to passively capture drifting food. As a tentacle becomes laden with material, it is moved to the mouth and cleaned, then held out again. Divers can readily observe the steady insertion of individual tentacles on undisturbed cucumbers.
 
March - April  
Reproduction:
In Puget Sound, planktonic larvae appear in the water column.

 
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary:
--
 
Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary:
--
 
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary:
Unknown if it is currently harvested.
 
Listing Status:
Some cucumber species are harvested for human consumption.
 
Monitoring Trends:
--
 
References:
Kozloff, E. N. 1996. Seashore life of the northern Pacific Coast. University of Washington Press. 370 p.

Lamb, A. and B. P. Hanby. 2005. Marine life of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing. 398 p.

Morris, R.H., D.P Abbott, and E.C. Haderlie. 1980. Intertidal Invertebrates of California. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 690 p.

 
Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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