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Phylum Echinodermata > Class Holothuroidea > Order Apodida > Family Synaptidae
Synaptid sea cucumbers
Family Synaptidae
updated Oct 2016
Where seen? These sea cucumbers appear to be seasonally abundant and are found on many of our shores. When in 'season', large numbers of small skinny ones (5-10cm long) may be seen draped around sponges and other encrusting animals. In the seagrass meadows, thicker very long ones (10-12cm, to 30cm long) are entwined among the seagrasses. They might even be seen crawling (slowly) on the sand.

Features: Synaptids have a thin body wall and are more delicate than other sea cucumbers. Synaptid sea cucumbers don't have tube feet. Instead, they may stick to things with tiny hooked sclerites that poke out of their soft bodies. This is why they stick to our hands if we touch them. They have thin body walls and are fragile, so we should not handle them.

Among the longest sea cucumbers is a synaptid, Synapta maculata, which can reach up to 3m long!

Sometimes mistaken for worms. Here's more on how to tell apart worm-like animals.

Synaptids on a sponge usual many
seen together.
Pulau Sekudu, Jul 03

Long big synaptids
are usually seen alone.
Pulau Semakau, Apr 08

Cyrene Reef, Aug 12

Body covered with tiny hooked sclerites.

Synaptid sea cucumbers on Singapore shores

Usually many seen on a sponge.

Feeding tentacles

Usually seen alone.

Feeding tentacles

Family Synaptidae recorded for Singapore
From Ong J. Y. & H. P. S. Wong. Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) from the Johor Straits, Singapore and J. Y. Ong, I. Wirawati & H. P. S. Wong. 29 June 2016. Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) collected from the Singapore Strait.
from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Record, etc)

  Synaptid sea cucumbers seen awaiting identification
Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.
  Sponge synaptid sea cucumber
Big synaptid sea cucumber

  Family Synaptidae
  Anapta gracilis

Opheodesoma grisea

Polyplectana kefersteinii

Protankyra bidentata
Protankyra pseudodigitata

Synaptula minima
Synaptula cf. recta
Synaptula reticulata
sp. 1
Synaptula sp. 2
Synaptula sp. 3


  • Family Synaptidae in North Australian Sea Cucumbers on Marine Species Identification Portal: Technical fact sheet.

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