One of the most common seafloor animals offshore of Monterey Bay is this sea cucumber, Scotoplanes globosa, commonly known as a “sea pig.” These animals are typically eight to 14 centimeters (three to eight inches) long and crawl slowly across the mud. These unusual sea cucumbers walk around the seafloor on elongated tube feet which keep them from sinking into the soft mud. They are deposit feeders, digging decaying pieces of algae and animals out of the mud using ten tentacles surrounding their mouths. Long, whip-like sensory organs, called papillae, help them find nutrient-rich food falling down from shallower waters. Their populations are directly influenced by what is happening at the surface of the ocean. For example, large groups of sea pigs can be found feasting near sunken whale carcasses and other food falls on the seafloor.
Learn more about these amazing creatures by watching this YouTube video.
NOTE: These images are for personal use only. Please contact MBARI to request permission for other uses.