Comprehensive Description

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Biology/Natural History: [Much of this info is based on papers referring to the species as C. lubrica.] In the Rosario area they often form large, almost continuous aggregations subtidally on rocks such as on areas of Sares Head and Coffin Rocks (photo). The aggregations look like a forest of small dark tentacles surrounded by an expanse of sediment trapped in almost gelatinous mucus. While the aggregations may almost completely cover the surface and individual cucumbers cannot be seen under the sediment-covered mucus, they can easily be isolated by digging a finger into the mass and removing some individuals. The cucumbers suspension feed on small phytoplankton. Besides aggregating (the aggregates are not clones), this species broods the young. The mother cucumber transfers her 1 mm diameter eggs to her ventral surface, where they develop into juveniles. Probably does not feed from October to March, and brooding females do not feeed. Spawning is from November to December on S. Vancouver Island. Males lift their oral ends off the substrate and release long strands of sperm. The sperm sink to the bottom and become entangled in nearby cucumbers. Females lift their oral ends and arch backwards. Eggs roll down the female's ventral surface upon release (many are washed away). She then re-attaches to the rock, holding some eggs beneath her. Eggs are brooded January to March. They hatch in 6 weeks but the female broods the young for another 4-8 weeks. Predators include the seastars Solaster stimpsoni, Solaster dawsoni, Leptasterias hexactis, and Pycnopodia helianthoides. The cucumber does not show an escape response to these stars. The cucumber is toxic to many fish. The saddleback amphipod Parapleustes sp eats the eggs, as does a nematode. The species is parasitized by the gastropod Thyonicola mortenseni.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

© Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory

Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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