Armored Sea Cucumber, Creeping pedal sea cucumber, slipper sea cucumber
|Synonyms: Psolus californicus|
|Psolus chitonoides, about 6 cm long, found subtidally at Sares Head, WA.|
|Photo by: Dave Cowles, July 2011|
How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Psolidium bidiscum is more purplish in color and is smaller (only up to 3cm long).
Geographical Range: Pribilof Islands and Gulf of Alaska to Baja California
Depth Range: Low intertidal zone to subtidal depths of 247m
Habitat: Rocks in exposed and sheltered inlets.
Biology/Natural History: P. chitonoides
is essentially sedentary. The cucumber uses its ten equal tentacles
to filter detritus from the water. Sticky pads on each tentacle capture
the food particles. The tentacles contain toxic compounds called
saponins to discourage fish from nibbling at them. Predators that
ignore these chemicals or are not affected by them include Stimpson’s
Sun Star, the Northern Sun Star, the Leather
Star, the Sunflower
Star, and the Red
Rock Crab. The animals spawn in the spring and a large female
may release up to 34,700 eggs. The eggs form a lecithotrophic larvae
followed by a pentacula
larvae. The larvae frequently settle in groups, usually on or near
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Lamb and Hanby, 2005
O’Clair and O’Clair, 1998.
Ricketts et al., 1985
Fankboner, P.V., 1978. Suspension-feeding mechanisms of the armoured sea cucumber Psolus chitonoides Clark. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 31: 11-25
McEdward, Larry R. and Benjamin G. Miner, 2006. Estimation and interpretation of egg provisioning in marine invertebrates. Integrative and Comparative Biology 46:3 pp 224-232
Young, C.M. and F-S Chia, 1982. Factors controlling spatial distribution of the sea cucumber Psolus chitonoides: Settling and post-settling behavior. Marine Biology 69: 195-205
Another photo of Psolus chitonoides. Noted the scalelike plates the upper surface is covered in. The buccal tentacles retract into the opening on the top right.
Photo by Dave Cowles, August 1997. Total length about 5 cm.
This species has bright red oral tentacles, as seen in this underwater photo. Note the animal on the right has a tentacle in the mouth to remove adhered material.
Photo by Jim Nestler, July 2005
This 4 cm individual was photographed by Kelly Williams in 2002