SIMoN
  Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
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Species Database

Cucumaria miniata - Orange sea cucumber

Orange sea cucumber image

Geographic range:

Alaska to Mexico

Key features:

Bright orange color and highly branched tentacular array.

Habitat(s):

bay (rocky shore), Continental shelf, exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
 

Primary common name:

Orange sea cucumber

Synonymous name(s):

Cucumaria albida

General grouping:

Sea stars, urchins, cucumbers, sand dollars, brittle stars

ITIS code:

158204
 

Geographic Range

Range Description:

Sitka, Alaska to Mexico

Intertidal Height

Lowest intertidal height:

meters OR -2 feet

Highest intertidal height:

meters OR 0 feet

Intertidal height notes:

Can be intertidal in northern part of range, but primarily subtidal from central California and southward.

Subtidal Depth Range

Minimum depth:

0 meters OR 0 feet

Maximum depth:

225 meters OR feet

Subtidal depth notes:

Common inhabitant of kelp forests.

Habitats

bay (rocky shore), Continental shelf, exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore

Habitat notes:

In cracks, crevices, or under large rocks. Rarely with the entire body exposed.

Abundance

Relative abundance:

Common

Species Description

General description:

Cucumaria miniata is a bright orange sea cucumber, with an elaborate array of 10 finely branched oral tentacles. Several branchlets off the main axis of each tentacle begin about one-third of the way up from the base, and the branchlets have additional branchings, leading to an incredibly large surface area for capturing organic detritus and planktonic prey.

The main body, which is elongate and smooth, has five rows of tube feet, each 4-6 tube feet across. The base and length of each tube foot is often a darker orange, verging on brown. However the tips of the tube feet tend to be very pale orange, almost white.

Distinctive features:

The bright orange color of this cucumber differentiates it from all other species along the central California coast. The tube feet are aligned in five distinct rows along the main body axis.

Size:

Length: to 20 cm
Body diameter: 3-5 cm
Tentacular diameter: to 15 cm

Natural History

General natural history:

This bright orange sea cucumber is most commonly observed from the anterior, with its ten highly branched oral tentacles extended out to filter the water. The rest of the body, which is cylindrical and elongate, is usually clinging tightly to the walls of the crevice or crack surrounding the cucumber. When disturbed, the tentacles retract into the oral cavity, completely disappearing and the cucumber withdraws, folding into itself and receding back into the protection of the crevice.

Predator(s):

Predators may include sea stars such as Solaster.

Prey:

Detritus and plankton.

Feeding behavior

Sessile suspension feeder

Feeding behavior notes:

As a sessile suspension feeder, Cucumaria miniata relies on its highly branched tentacles (high surface area) to passively capture drifting food. As a tentacle becomes laden with material, it is moved to the mouth and cleaned, then held out again. Divers can readily observe the steady insertion of individual tentacles on undisturbed cucumbers.

March - April

Reproduction:

In Puget Sound, planktonic larvae appear in the water column.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

Unknown if it is currently harvested.

Listing Status:

Some cucumber species are harvested for human consumption.
Click on an image below to view a larger version in the SIMoN Photo Library. You will also be able to view important information on each photo such as photographer, date, caption and more.
Kozloff, E. N. 1996. Seashore life of the northern Pacific Coast. University of Washington Press. 370 p.
Lamb, A. and B. P. Hanby. 2005. Marine life of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing. 398 p.
Morris, R.H., D.P Abbott, and E.C. Haderlie. 1980. Intertidal Invertebrates of California. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 690 p.