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Parastichopus californicus Also known as: The Giant Red Sea Cucumber Or the California Sea Cucumber Brought to you by: Purple-Urple the Sea Star.

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Presentation on theme: "Parastichopus californicus Also known as: The Giant Red Sea Cucumber Or the California Sea Cucumber Brought to you by: Purple-Urple the Sea Star."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parastichopus californicus Also known as: The Giant Red Sea Cucumber Or the California Sea Cucumber Brought to you by: Purple-Urple the Sea Star

2 Hi! My name is Purple-Urple the Starfish! Welcome to the Ocean! Today, I’m going to tell you about my cousin: Squishy, the California sea cucumber (since he’s too shy to talk to you about himself)!

3 How am I related to Squishy? Here’s a little bit about our family tree: We are both classified members of the Animalia Kingdom because we both have eukaryotic cells and are multi-cellular organisms. We both also belong to the phylum Echinodermata because we both have pentaradial symmetry (see slide #6 for definition), are marine animals, and sea bottom dwellers. We’re different and only cousins because Squishy is part of the class Holothuroidea - he has a reduced skeleton - and other such things, while I am in the class Asteroidea. clip art

4 Just A… Little …Squishy Squishy was born the same way all sea cucumbers are. His father released his sperm into the water and his mother, her eggs. In the ocean currents, the sperm and the egg met, creating Squishy! But he didn’t settle to the ocean floor instantly. He first had to live as a tiny, 0.25mm large, platonic organism, floating with the current, for four months. Plankton: “It’s not fair - He’s only tiny for four months! I’m tiny for life!!’ clip art

5 Squishy is now a full-grown California sea cucumber and is about 55 cm long and 5 cm wide, the average size for the largest species of sea cucumbers from Alaska to California. As he just turned four, he began to travel to shallow waters, between April and August, to spawn and have kids of his own. Squishy’s Proportions clip art

6 Now, Squishy is a handsome sea cucumber. He is long and thin, has almost transparent leathery skin, a bright red colour and beautiful, orangey spikes that look dangerous to predators, but are soft to touch. His brother, on the other hand, is almost white with brown splotches all over him. In my opinion, he is not handsome at all! Like me, Squishy has pentaradial symmetry, which means that if you cut him from head to toe into five sections, all of these sections would be identical. As well, he has five rows of tube feet, called pacila, which help him to move about 4m on a good day. Squishy’s Exterior © A Little

7 Squishy is very lucky. He can live anywhere from the intertidal zone to 250m deep in mud, gravel, shell, rock, rubble or even solid bedrock. He found a nice, rocky shelf 17m deep in an area called Race Rocks. Here, there are thousands of crevasses for him to hide from predators and also tons of food to eat. Squishy’s Habitat and Location One of the many places Squishy can live

8 Just thinking about food reminds me of how Squishy eats! (The only time I wish that we weren’t related is when I remember his eating habits!) “The Garbage Can of the Sea” - Dive Master Plankton: “Don’t eat me!” Squishy has modified tube feet that are hydraulically-powered and have a sticky surface. He collects algae (first picture) and decomposing matter on these “feeding tentacles” and licks the food off. YUCK!

9 I’m not the only one who thinks Squishy needs to eat better food! A scuba diving instructor from British Columbia commented on how sea cucumbers like Squishy were the “garbage cans of the sea.” But, there is an upside to this. By eating decaying matter, sea cucumbers help break down waste faster and return the nutrients trapped in the dead matter back into the ecosystem. Thus, by being decomposers, they are important to the ecosystem! Go figure! “The Garbage Can of the Sea” - continued © A Little clip art

10 But, even with his important rile, Squishy is not very respected. One day, two divers, who obviously did not realize how important Squishy was, picked him up. Once this happened, Squishy contracted his longitudal muscles (long muscles that span the sea cucumber’s entire length) and became shorter, fatter and more compact, with his soft spikes looking more dangerous. But, since the divers knew that he couldn’t hurt them, they played underwater volleyball with him! Luckily, they quickly got bored with their game and put Squishy down. Otherwise, he may have expelled some of his internal organs including his repertory trees (a system of highly-branched tubes that pump in water and diffuse the oxygen from it), gonads (an organ that produces gametes) and part of its digestive tract. It’s really bad for his system, so he only uses this defensive mechanism in worst-case scenarios. If he does expel his organs, he has to hide in the mud for 6 to 8 weeks while he regenerates these body parts! DISASTER! - Squishy’s Close Shave © A Little

11 Neat facts about Squishy (and his family) If you took Squishy out of the water for too long (just a couple of hours), he would start to decompose! Sea cucumbers are at least 400 million years old, but no one really knows for sure because they are made up of such delicate matter that very few of them become fossilized. California sea cucumbers don’t have any real bones. Instead, they have ossicles (plates) scattered throughout their skin, making them very flexible! California sea cucumbers is the only type of sea cucumber that is commercially harvested along the Pacific coast of Canada and the US. Yes, some people eat sea cucumber! They eat their longitudal muscles. These muscles are considered great delicacies in some countries. When you are sprayed by liquid coming out of the sea cucumber it is not salt water like most people think, but coelomic fluid, a special body fluid it produces by itself. Squishy has light sensors all over his body so he can “sense” the amount of light around him.

12 Thank you very much! For listening to my story about my cousin, Squishy! If you want to learn more about Squishy, his family and the sea cucumbers in general, click on the links below. 1. 2. http://www-comm.pac.dfo- er.htmlhttp://www-comm.pac.dfo- er.html 3. 4. a.html a.html

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