Being Maldivian, chances are you’ve come across (then promptly wanted to run away from) sea cucumbers, locally known as “Huifilandaa”. They look like and have the mental capacity of the vegetable they are named after. However, unlike a delicious and relatively cheap cucumber, sea cucumbers are a considered as luxury seafood in some Asian countries.
Sea cucumbers are close relatives of starfishes and sea urchins and over 1250 different species can be found on sea floors all around the world. Their length can vary from 0.12 up to 12 inches long and they come in a multitude of colours. The five rows of tentacles on the body of the sea cucumber help it to feed and move. Their diet consists mainly of algae, plankton and microscopic marine animals.
They also do not possess a brain, which might explain why they breathe through their anus and why they fling their internal organs at potential threats. They literally expel their internal organs along with a toxic substance called holothurin at predators and they just go on with their day. Missing organs just grow back in about two weeks.
Sea cucumbers have soft leathery skin and can almost liquefy their bodies, shape shifting themselves into tight spaces. They are often found in large colonies and they are also nocturnal. Most species live for 5 to 10 years and are capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction.
But none of this compares to the final bit of information we have regarding sea cucumbers.
Pearlfish are known to call sea cucumber anuses their home and sometimes they even feed on the guts of the sea cucumber. But of course, lacking a brain and also obtaining the super powers of regeneration help the sea cucumber to live harmoniously with its weird room-mate.
If you thought they were anything but super cucumbers that weaponize their guts, regenerate their organs and rent out their body cavities, think again.