sea cucumbers text index | photo index
Phylum Echinodermata > Class Holothuroidea
Black long sea cucumber
Holothuria leucospilota
Family Holothuriidae
updated Apr 2020

Where seen? This large long black sea cucumber is commonly seen on our reefy Southern shores. The animal usually hides most of its body under large boulders or rocks, with only the front feeding end sticking out. Elsewhere, it is considered a very common species, sometimes found in high densities, in reefs, seagrass meadows, sandy and muddy bottoms with rubble or reefs, from shallow areas to 10m deep.

Features: About 30-40cm, it can lengthen to about 1m long. Body soft long cylindrical without an obvious under and upperside. With short soft pointed 'spines' and tube feet all over the body. Colour uniformly very dark brown or maroon to black, without any markings. Mouth facing downwards, with 20 large feeding tentacles short, same colour as the body, with bushy tips. When disturbed, it can release from its backside, thin sticky white cylindrical tubes called Cuvierian tubules. But those on our shores seldom do this.

Baby cucumbers: The sea cucumber achieves sexual maturity at 180 g and sexual reproduction occurs twice a year, during the dry season. Smaller individuals may reproduce asexually with the long body dividing into two (transverse fission). Juveniles have a similar appearance to adults.

Sentosa, Aug 05

Feeding tentacles with bushy tips.
St. John's Island, Jan 06

A small one (about 10cm long).
Pulau Tekukor, Jan 10
What does it eat? It gathers edible bits from the surface. The mouth faces downward and has 20 long feeding tentacles with bushy sticky tips. Most of the body is usually wedged under rocks or crevices with only the front end extended out and the mouth facing downwards. It swallows much sand in the process of eating. This is undigested and defecated.

Cosy cucumber: This sea cucumber is said to be a host to the pearl fish Encheliophis vermicularis.

Often several under a rock.
Terumbu Selegie, Jun 11

Out of water.
Lazarus Island, Apr 12
Human uses: This sea cucumber does not have high commercial value and is not harvested for the food trade nor live aquarium trade, because of its thin skin and tendency to produce Cuvierian tubules when stressed. But there seems to be many studies investigating their biochemical properties.

Status and threats: This sea cucumber is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals in Singapore. Although globally, according to the FAO, "it has one of the broadest distributions of all holothurians, and it can be found in most tropical localities in the western central Pacific, Asia and most Indian Ocean regions"

Black long sea cucumbers on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Chek Jawa, Aug 13
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

East Coast PCN, Apr 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Labrador, May 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Labrador, Aug 17
Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.

Berlayar Creek, Oct 21
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Sentosa Serapong, May 24
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Terumbu Semakau, Dec 15
Photo shared by Chay Hoon on facebook.

Terumbu Buran, Jan 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Mar 16
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Terumbu Hantu, Jun 13
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pulau Salu, Apr 21
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Filmed on Pulau Tekukor, Jan 10

blackseasucumbers from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

Links References
  • Lane, David J.W. and Didier Vandenspiegel. 2003. A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 187pp.
  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
  • Gosliner, Terrence M., David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams. 1996. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific: Animal life from Africa to Hawaii exclusive of the vertebrates Sea Challengers. 314pp.
  • Allen, Gerald R and Roger Steene. 2002. Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide. Tropical Reef Research. 378pp.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008