Orange/Red Sea Cucumber         Cucumaria miniata



This sausage shaped relative of sea stars and sea urchins is a common inhabitant of areas with hiding places such as under boulders, rocky crevices or even under clumps of mussels on floats.  It is around four to eight inches long with five rows of tube feet (like other echinoderms) stretching the length of the body.  The tube feet are not used for locomotion, but rather as anchors to keep the animal in place.  The body color ranges from dark red to an light orange so it is also called the red sea cucumber.  The head (on the right in the photograph) sports 10 branched tentacles (modified tube feet) which when expanded trap drifting food items such as plankton or organic debris.  The tentacles, as they become covered in food, are moved to the mouth where they are wiped clean. It, in turn, is fed upon by the striped sun star and other sea stars.


The method of respiration is different in most sea cucumbers than in sea stars or sea urchins which use bulges in the skin to respire.  Sea cucumbers  have several long sacks running the length of the body into which they draw fresh sea water from the anal area.  


The orange sea cucumber ranges from the low intertidal to around a minus 300 ft in areas with moderate to high currents from Alaska to southern California.  


They spawn from march to May by releasing eggs and sperm that form larvae which settle near the adults and can live for five to ten years.