The video above is of a sea cucumber feeding. Within the ocean, organisms have adapted many different methods of gathering food. It’s not as easy to find food in water as on land, even within the same species there can be many different methods, just look at fish! You have gigantic whale sharks that filter feed on tiny planktonic creatures, to deep sea angler fish that use a flashing lure that brings food close enough to grab or even the awesome gulper eel that’s stomach is bigger than the body so it can eat a meal of any size.
So sea cucumbers are a member of the echinoderm family (starfish, sea urchins, sea daises and the holothurian or sea cucumber). This particular individual is a sea apple and they are round sea cucumbers that look like apples. Sea cucumbers are found on the sea floor and are the most abundant animal within the deep sea. This brightly coloured individual would be found on a coral reef in the Indo-Pacific. They can be found individually, in pairs or even in huge herds. The general feeding strategy is deposit feeding on detritus such as plankton or decaying material. Sea cucumbers will either pick through the sea bed or filter through the water column for their food, often being described as the earthworms of the sea. In this case, it’s filter or suspension feeding and this is done through the capture of particles on their mucous-covered tentacles. Once the tentacles are saturated then the particles are scraped off in the centrally-located mouth, from the video you can clearly see this movement.
I filmed this at work and find it fascinating and something often overlooked! You don’t often get to see this behaviour, when diving you want to see as much as possible and don’t often stop and stare! So here is the behaviour up close for all to see!