These Sea Creatures May Be Able To Save The Coral Reefs, If They Survive Illegal Trade


photo courtesy of national geographic

What makes a cucumber not a cucumber? When they’re Sea Cucumbers. Sea Cucumbers are endocrine with thick, worm like bodies and tentacles around the mouth. Sea Cucumbers are not cucumbers, necessarily, but can be eaten like cucumbers, and some might even say they’re tasty.

That’s why a study released online on February 19 is disturbing. It shows that demand in China for these soft-bodied, bottom-dwelling marine animals related to sea urchins and starfish—a group known as echinoderms—isn’t declining, as some supposed, but continues to rise, according to National Geographic.

When the cucumber takes in sand, their digestive process adds pH high pH levels into the water. The research at One Tree Island showed that in a healthy reef, dissolution of calcium carbonate sediment by sea cucumbers and other bioeroders appears to be an important component of the natural calcium carbonate turnover, according to PHYS.

Why are the coral reefs disappearing in the first place? Scientists believe that these reefs are disappearing due to “Coral Bleaching” and global warming. Bleaching occurs when prolonged high temperatures in the ocean cause coral to expel the symbiotic algae that provides it with food and colour.

The coral turns a ghostly white, and can die if tolerable conditions don’t return. The world’s oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat generated by the release of greenhouse gases from human activity, according to The Guardian.

Global warming, if you don’t already know, is the gradual increase of temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is caused by greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases absorb carbon dioxide, killing plants.

Just a few decades ago the tubular creatures, which vary in length from about nine inches to more than six feet and sport a dizzying array of patterns and protuberances on their leathery hides, carpeted the ocean floor in tropical regions. But the 70-plus species of commercially valuable sea cucumbers are now being fished out of sea after sea to meet demand in an increasingly affluent China, according to National Geographic.