Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Polyplectana kefersteinii

I am now very intrigue by sea cucumbers. Everything about them fascinates me. Their docile nature belies a nasty defence mechanism; the myriad colours and sizes sea cucumbers can occur; they are not very well studied with many undescribe species and their overall squeamishness which, strangely, I find really appealing. And of course some of them really look like big poo.

There are about 1400 known species worldwide. They are classified into six orders and in total 25 families. I’ve so far seen representatives from five families on our intertidal shores. The latest is this one representing the synaptids.

A typical synaptid from the Order Apodida has no tube feet, has a very thin and sticky body wall and has no respiratory trees. Apodids’ oral tentacles can be simple or digitate or, like this individual has so beautifully demonstrated, feather-like.

This species is most probably a Polyplectana kefersteinii. But of course we would have to examine its microscopic ossicles to be 100% certain of the identification.


Picture and video taken at: A southern offshore island, March 2007 and Pulau Semakau, May 2007.


References:

Kerr, A. M., Holothuroidea. Sea cucumbers.
http://www.tolweb.org/Holothuroidea

Lane, D. J. W. & D. Vandenspiegel, 2003. A Guide to Sea Stars and other Echinoderms of Singapore, Singapore Science Centre, Singapore.

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