Sea Pigs. Characteristics, curiosities and more information about them

The sea pigs Scotoplanes globosa in scientific terms are in reality, a kind of sea cucumber, so they can be classified as echinoderms, a category to which sea urchins and starfish  also belong. keep with us to learn everything about them.

Specifically, they belong to the genus Scotoplanes, a genus of deep sea cucumbers that includes four species. They are found in all the oceans of the world. In some areas they represent more than 95% of the total weight of animals on the seabed. Despite its abundance, most people will never see a sea pig, since they live in the coldest and deepest parts of the ocean.

Main Characteristics

The sea pigs’ anatomy is usually affected by the depths of the sea where they live. They have a translucent and colorless skin because they live in darkness without light. Their body is plumped, gelatinous and oval about four inches long. Moreover, they have ten tentacles in their mouth which they use to feed on organic particles in the deep sea mud.

They have between five and seven pairs of «feet» for walking, of which the enlarged tube feet are used for locomotion, which is why the sea pigs employ cavities of water inside their skin, to inflate and deflate the appendages, this being the only case of leg locomotion among the holothurians. These legs and their plump shape are the main reason for their name. Additionally we can mention that sea pigs have three pairs of papillae on the dorsal surface of the body, two of them long and whip-like, and the third short and probably help them to find their way to tasty sediments.

How Sea Pigs Reproduce ?

Scientists have limited knowledge about the sea pigs’ life cycle, reproduction patterns and behavior, due to the depths in which they live. Scientists know that they travel in groups and the number depends on the currents. This information has been collected through robotic photographs to the depths of 3.7 miles and by tracking the ocean floor.

Curiosities and Interesting Facts About Sea Pigs ?

    • They are called «sea pigs» because of the shape of their legs which are a little swollen (like that of pigs), their color, and their oval body shape.
    • Sea pigs can enter without any problem in the palm of your hand, due to the small size of their body: between 10 and 15 centimeters.
    • Although there are few people who know about their existence, it is important to say that scientists know about the existence of sea pigs, since more than 100 years ago. They were first described by the Swedish zoologist Hjalmar Theel in 1882. Theel described about 65 new species discovered by the British research vessel HMS Challenger during his 1872-1876 expedition around the world.sea pigs: sea pig harboring juvenile crabs
    •  Sometimes they can be found in large agglomerations of several hundred individuals. It’s not because they enjoy each other’s company. It is believed that sea pigs tend to congregate where food resources are abundant. Therefore, many hundreds of sea pigs will be attracted to a corpse of dead whale on the sea floor and gather in the place to feast.
    •  Sea pigs live in the deepest part of the ocean, in abyssal depths of the world’s oceans, more than 3.7 miles deep.
    • The upper appendages (head) are not antennas, but legs. Although they look like antennae, the structures on top of the sea pigs’ head are actually legs. These upper papillae are modified as tubular legs and help them move along the ocean, or they can have a sensory function, which helps them detect the chemical trace of a tasty food.
    • The sea pigs go through the mud to taste the delicious foam. Sea pigs are detritus feeders, which eat pieces of decaying plant material and animals found in deep-sea mud. Their mouths are surrounded by a ring of feeding tentacles that they use to sift through the mud and grab food. Sea pigs are especially fond of food that has recently fallen from the surface of the ocean, like a whale carcass.
    • Sea pigs harbor several strange parasites, where small snails and crustaceans are included, that make holes in their host’s bodies and feed on them internally so that although it seems a species that does not matter at sea, if it is for these creatures that inhabit it.
    • Here they are

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