Cucumaria pallida Kirkendale and Lambert, 1995

Common name(s): Pallid cucumber

Synonyms:  Formerly thought to be a pale form of Cucumaria miniata.  Has also been called Cucumaria fallax.
Phylum Echinodermata
 Class Holothuroidea
  Order Dendrochirotida
   Family Cucumariidae
Cucumaria pallida from about 10 m depth, Sares Head.  About 12 cm long.
(Photo by: Dave Cowles, July 2006)
Description:  This sea cucumber has 10 pale, bushy buccal tentacles of equal length (photo) and 5 rows of tube feet (the ventral rows are better developed) (photo).  The body is up to about 26 cm long, is pale brown, tan, or yellowish, and does not have dark spots.  Skin ossicles are circular or oval perforated plates, some with one end tapering and with knobs on the surfaces of many of them.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:  This species looks most similar to Cucumaria miniata, of which it formerly was thought to be a pale variant.  C. miniata has more robust, orange or brown buccal tentacles and its body is also orange or brown.  C. miniata averages 45 madreporic bodies internally while C. pallida averages 9.

Geographical Range:  Auke Bay, Alaska to Santa Rosa Island, CA.

Depth Range:  Low intertidal to 91 m (mostly from 11-20 m)

Habitat:  Under rocks and cobble

Biology/Natural History:  This species lives mostly buried in the cracks between subtidal cobble.  It suspension feeds by extending its buccal tentacles up into the water column.  Spawning is from mid March to early May.  Females release strands of eggs which later break up.  The eggs are about 1/2 mm diameter.

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Dichotomous Keys:
  Kozloff 1987, 1996
  Lambert, 1997

General References:

Scientific Articles:
Kirkendale, L. and P. Lambert, 1995.  Cucumaria pallida, a new species of sea cucumber from the northeast Pacific Ocean (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea).  Canadian Journal of Zoology 73: 542-551

McEuen, F.S., 1986.  The reproductive biology and development of twelve species of holothuroids from the San Juan Islands, Washington.  Ph.D. thesis, University of Alberta (as C. fallax)

McEuen, F.S., 1987.  Phylum Echinodermata, Class Holothuroidea.  Pp. 574-596 in Strathmann, M.F. (ed), Reproduction and development of marine invertebrates of the northern Pacific coast..  University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA

McEuen, F.S., 1988.  Spawning behaviours of northeast Pacific sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea: Echinodermata).  Marine Biology (Berlin) 98: 565-585

Web sites:

General Notes and Observations:  Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:

The ambulacral rows are more ordered on the ventral side than on the dorsal side.
x x
Dorsal ambulacral rows Ventral ambulacral rows

The 10 equal buccal tentacles in this species are paler and less robust than in Cucumaria miniata.

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2006):  Created original page