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California Sea Cucumber, Parastichopus californicus

[California Sea
Cucumber, Parastichopus californicus, miscuke.jpg=58KB]

The California sea cucumber, Parastichopus californicus, is found from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico in the low intertidal zone down to 249 meters. This is the largest sea cucumber on the West Coast, up to 20 in in length when it is relaxed. When it is feeding this species is mobile, having tube feet on its ventral surface. Twenty tentacles at the anterior end of the body secrete a substance which aids in the capture of detritus and small organisms on sand and rock bottoms. The California sea cucumber is taken commercially in Southeast Alaska and Kodiak, and south along the West Coast.

Scientific name: Greek Para (beside, parallel) and kentron (a point, spine), sticho (often denotes a row of rod-like processes), and californicus (belonging to California).


Digital photo by Dr. Bradley Stevens and Eric Munk. References (a complete list) in the text include: O'Clair (1998), Gotshall (1994), Kessler (1985) or Barr (1983).

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