Thursday, December 16, 2010

Related to the Stars!

Some of us are related to stars, some not. I can say that personally, I am not, but the magnificent 3 foot sea cucumbers that populate our shores are!

The Conspicuous Sea Cucumber (Opheodesoma spectabilis) or weli in Hawaiian is a native species. They are found in quiet waters throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. In Hawaii they occur mainly in Kane'ohe Bay and Pearl Harbor.

They are not a worms. They are not an indication of polluted water. They are not an invasive species. They are not new - they are reports of them here from over 100 years ago.

They are a very cool relative of the sea stars. They have a body plan based on the number five. Have your tour group count the number of long lines (muscle lines) down the length of the body. There will be - 5 - just like the rays of a seastar or the parts of an urchin.

They only look worm-like, since the 5 long muscles are broken up by circular muscle bands every 1/4 inch or so along the body, creating rings and bumps. These are not true segments like in a worm.

What good are they? They don't indicate polluted waters, they feed on tiny particles on a healthy quiet reef or lagoon. They are an important part of the clean up and recycling crew.

And they are related to the stars (sea stars).

For further info - see an article by Dr. Rob Toonen here:



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