What is this?
A Sea Cucumber
The sea cucumber is not one that you would use for salads and sandwiches. It's a marine animal that eats algae, tiny animals and waste materials. Just like earthworms, they also break down plant particles into even smaller pieces and recycle them back into the ocean’s ecosystem. Together with starfish and sea urchins, they belong to the group called echinoderms.
Sea cucumbers are food for fish and other animals in the ocean and form a vital part of the marine food web. Unfortunately, they are also a delicacy for humans and, therefore, need to be safeguarded.
Even though sea cucumbers are protected in many areas, illegal fishing greatly reduces the worldwide sea cucumber population. The reason is that sea cucumbers are a delicacy in China and they are said to have many medicinal effects.
But overfishing means that nature can’t keep up restoring their population. And we know that when pieces in a food web are missing, the whole ecosystem is threatened to collapse.
Take my stomach!
When a predator threatens the sea cucumber, it “throws out” its internal organs. So then, even if its stomach gets eaten by another animal, it will grow back in a few days.
By Eloise Kruger (Whyzz writer)