You won't find this cucumber growing on a vine in your garden. Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, part of the same family as starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars and others. They are marine animals living in the ocean at all depths. You may find them near the ocean floor or partially buried and some floating around with the currents.
You can see by the above picture where they got their name, because it looks somewhat like the cucumbers we are most familiar with. According to the National Wildlife Federation, they use their tentacle-like tube feet to eat and to move along.
There are over 1,000 species of sea cucumber. Depending on the species, they range in size from under an inch to over six feet! Some live to the ripe old age of ten and others only last about five years.
When threatened, one method of defense is to contract their muscles so violently that they actually expel some of their internal organs. Not to worry, because they can regenerate rather quickly. Sounds odd to me, but hey, they just do what it takes to save their lives, right?
As I researched this creature I was amazed at all I found. They are even considered a delicacy to eat in China and other Asian countries. How would you like some deep fried sea cukes?
Or what about some sea cucumber crackers?
Besides being a Chinese delicacy, it has also been used in their medicine for many years. It can treat a variety of illnesses including cancer according to this article I found in my search.
I had no idea the sea cucumber was such a fascinating creature! To learn more about them check out these resources I used: National Geographic, Wikipedia, and National Wildlife Federation.
**This is my third installment of the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge.**