step on the sea cucumbers!
Buried Ball sea cucumbers
are a good subject to sensitise visitors to the fact that every
inch of the shore is alive. Dig one up in front of them and this
usually amazes them. This illustrates that just because we can't
see the animals, doesn't mean there are none.
you think there are any animals in this sand bar? Well,
it may seem dead and lifeless, but the sand bar is full of buried
animals. Here's one large sea cucumber.
- Some points
show the visitors how to tell where a sea cucumber is buried
to avoid too many people digging them up just for fun.
digging it up, transfer the sea cucumber to a pot filled with
seawater so that the sea cucumber is not too stressed and
people don't pass the sea cucumber hand to hand.
- You can
let them touch it gently but don't let people squeeze the
you have finished explaining the sea cucumber, bury it back
and point out that you are burying it with the animal's mouth
and anus facing towards the sand surface.
are sea cucumbers?
cucumbers and you
are not vegetables! Despite their common names, they are
not vegetables. They are animals!
does the sea cucumber protect itself? The sea cucumber
is a soft animal without teeth or spines. How is it that no one
has eaten it? Can you guess?.
protect themselves with toxins
hide in the sand.
cucumbers are fragile! When
stressed, a sea cucumber may expell its guts or other noxious
substances. These may irritate your skin and may hurt you if these
get into your eyes or mouth. Please don't make sea cucumbers expel
their intestines. Not all do this. Those that do cannot eat until
they re-grow their innards.
Some species of sea cucumbers are sadly overharvested as a delicacy.
Many of these species are threatened by over-collection for the trade.
Tests indicate these sea cucumbers contain toxins. They must be properly
prepared before they are safe to eat. You cannot just put a sea cucumber
straight from the shore into a pot to safely eat it.
Sea cucumber myths to dispel
is NOT true that all sea cucumbers can expel their innards.
Please don't make sea cucumbers expel their intestines. Not all
do this. Those that do cannot eat until they re-grow their innards.
I take this sea cucumber home to eat? Tests indicate these
sea cucumbers contain toxins. They must be properly prepared before
they are safe to eat. You cannot just put a sea cucumber straight
from the shore into a pot to safely eat it.
Finding sea cucumbers Most are well hidden. Some burrow
into the sand leaving only tell-tale signs on the surface. Others
hide under stone or among coral rubble.
Don't teach visitors how to spot buried sea cucumbers
in the sand to avoid too many people digging them up just for
Don't step on sea cucumbers They are living animals.
Sometimes, sea cucumbers are washed ashore and found among debris
Don't remove sea cucumbers out of water they need sea water
the way we need blood.
Don't squeeze sea cucumbers! Don't poke or squeeze them
to make them eject their guts. This is cruel as they may need
this for their defense and they need resources to replenish
their guts. Meanwhile, they cannot eat.
Return sea cucumbers where you found them: They move
slowly and some need to be in specific locations. If you dig
one up, put it back the RIGHT WAY (with the mouth and anus facing
the sand surface).