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Sea cucumber

Sea cucumbers are echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea. They are marine animals with a leathery skin and an elongated body containing a single, branched gonad. Sea cucumbers are found on the sea floor worldwide. The number of holothurian (/ˌhɒləˈθjʊəriən, ˌh-, -ˈθʊər-/) species worldwide is about 1,717 with the greatest number being in the Asia Pacific region. Many of these are gathered for human consumption and some species are cultivated in aquaculture systems. The harvested product is variously referred to as trepang, bêche-de-mer or balate. Sea cucumbers serve a useful role in the marine ecosystem as they help recycle nutrients, breaking down detritus and other organic matter after which bacteria can continue the degradation process.

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This iamge is a Pink See-through Fantasia. It is a sea cucumber that can be found in the Celebes sea, 2,500 meters below the surface. The webbed structures in their bodies underneath propel them. Credit: Oceanographic Institution

Contributed by AJ Santos

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