Orange-footed sea cucumber

  (Redirected from Cucumaria frondosa)

The orange-footed sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) is the largest sea cucumber in New England, United States.[2] It is one of the most abundant and widespread species of holothurians within the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea (Russia),[3] being most abundant along the eastern coast of North America.[4][5]

Orange-footed sea cucumber
FMIB 47874 Cucumaria frondosa side view (65), dorsal view (66).jpeg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Holothuroidea
Order: Dendrochirotida
Family: Cucumariidae
Genus: Cucumaria
C. frondosa
Binomial name
Cucumaria frondosa
(Gunnerus, 1767) [1]
  • Botryodactyla affinis Ayres, 1851
  • Botryodactyla grandis Ayres, 1851
  • Cucumaria assimilis Düben & Koren, 1846
  • Holothuria frondosa Gunnerus, 1767
  • Holothuria fucicola Forbes & Goodsir, 1839
  • Holothuria grandis Forbes & Goodsir, 1839
  • Holothuria pentacta Gmelin, 1791
  • Holothuria pentactes Linnaeus, 1767
  • Holothuria pentactes O.F. Müller, 1776
  • Hydra corallifera Gaertner, 1762
  • Pentacta frondosa (Gunnerus, 1767)


These sea cucumbers reach around 20 cm (8 in) in length and have ten branched oral tentacles ranging in colour from orange to black.[6] This species has a football shape with a leathery skin ranging in colour from yellowish white to dark brownish-black and is covered with five rows of retractile tube feet.[6][7] The young are about 1 mm to 6 mm long and are translucent orange and pink.[6] Three of these bands of tube feet are found on bottom whereas the top rows are often reduced. Adults of C. frondosa have a reduced numbers of spicules (skeletal structures) shaped like rounded plates with many holes.[8] The sexes can be identified by the conspicuous tube-shaped (female) or heart-shaped (male) gonopore located under the crown of oral tentacles.[9]


Their habitat is rocks, crevices or low-tide Arctic water.[10] They are known to cover vast areas of the substrate at depths of less than 30 meters (100 ft).[5][11]


The sea cucumber has modified its oral tube feet to form tentacles surrounding its mouth which are retracted when disturbed or bringing food into its mouth.[12] The tentacles are displayed in a ring form with ten individual tentacles that are each highly branched looking treelike. Most sea cucumbers are deposit feeders but Cucumaria frondosa are a suspension feeding[13] organism where they catch available particles in the ocean on their tentacles.

Sea cucumbers were tested in the Atlantic Ocean to see if there was seasonality to the feeding of cucumbers. Specifically C. frondosa were shown to have this feeding adaptation, and feed only in the spring (March to April) when the day length, water temperature, and chlorophyll concentration began to increase [14] A combination of these environmental cues is accountable for the feeding of C. frondosa because just one of them is not enough to trigger the animal to start eating. The chlorophyll concentration increases during this time due to a phytoplankton bloom season and larger amount of primary production. The cucumber does not eat through the colder seasons and will start back up again in the spring.


  1. ^ Hansson, Hans (2010). "Cucumaria frondosa (Gunnerus, 1767)". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  2. ^ Leland W. Pollock 1998 - A Practical Guide to the Marine Animals of Northeastern North America -Rutgers University Press Page 276
  3. ^ Gudimova, E.N., Gudimov, A., and Colline, P. 2004. A study of the biology for fishery in two populations of Cucumaria frondosa: In the Barents Sea (Russia) and in the Gulf of Maine (USA). In Echinoderms: München. Edited by T. Heinzeller and J.H. Nebelsick. CRC Press, London.
  4. ^ Hyman, L.H. 1955. The invertebrates: Echinodermata. McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc., New York.
  5. ^ a b Jordan, A.J. 1972. On the ecology and behavior of Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) at Lamoine Beach, Maine. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Biology, The University of Maine, Orono, M.E. 74 pp.
  6. ^ a b c Gosner, K.L. 1978. This species of Sea Cucumber can move about two feet per day. It is able to accomplish this task by the movement of its stomach wall muscles. Peterson field guides: Atlantic seashore. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  7. ^ Jordan, A. J. 1972. On the ecology and behaviour of Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea at Lamoine Beach, Maine. Ph.D. thesis, University of Maine and Orono, Orono. United States.
  8. ^ Levin, V. S., and Gudimova, E. N. 2000. Taxonomic interrelations of holothurians Cucumaria frondosa and C. japonica (Dendrochirotida, Cucumariidae). S.P.C. Beche-de-mer Inf. Bull. 13: 22-29.
  9. ^ Hamel, J.-F. and Mercier, A. 1996a. Early development, settlement, growth, and spatial distribution of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 53: 253-271.
  10. ^ Andrew J. Martinez - 2003 - Marine Life of the North Atlantic: Canada to New England - Aqua Quest Publications Page 178
  11. ^ Singh, R., MacDonald, B.A., Lawton, P., and Thomas, M.L.H. 1998. Feeding response of the dendrochirote sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) to changing food concentrations in the laboratory. Can. J. Zool. 76: 1842-1849.
  12. ^ Pechenik, Jan A. 2010. Biology of the Invertebrates. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Boston, Massachusetts.
  13. ^ Tim Wijgerde. "Filter and suspension feeders". Coral Publications. Retrieved 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ Singh, R., MacDonald, B. A., Thomas, M. L., & Lawton, P. 1999. Patterns of seasonal and tidal feeding activity in the dendrochirote sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 187, 133-145.