Planet Earth

The Sea Cucumber Shall Inherit the Earth

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumOct 27, 2010 3:29 PM

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..okay not exactly. But anyone who reads The Intersection regularly likely knows I have an affinity for the sea cucumber--the charismatic little critter I studied in graduate school up at UMaine. What I haven't shared previously is that because I worked on them for years, I also became extremely sensitive to the toxin they produce--as many researchers working with different echinoderms do. In fact, I am now severely allergic to cucumaria frondosa. Needless to say, you don't want to mess with them. So I'm not surprised to learn that unlike many species at risk from ocean acidification--already adversely affecting marine organisms like clown fish--echinoderms seem to be less vulnerable. From the BBC:

When the animals, known as echinoderms, were exposed to water high in carbon dioxide early in their lives, there were no adverse effects. Echinoderms are a diverse group that includes sea cucumbers and starfish. Their natural resilience could represent a competitive advantage under some climate change scenarios.

Hence, as ocean acidification threatens the marine realm, the meek cucumber may be alright in the end. That is, if we don't overharvest them first. Read the full article here...

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