The Day I Met a Sea Cucumber

 

I was an avid viewer of all things David Attenborough in my younger days; his depictions, narrations and absolute knowledge of wildlife was utterly inspiring and mesmerizing and undoubtedly helped to cultivate my love of the environment.

I particularly enjoyed his programmes about sea life as I lived by the beach, so to see that incredible aquatic landscape in such vivid colours was a gift. The sea across the street from my house was a murky thing and only rarely afforded decent snorkelling opportunities. There were a few rock pools at low tide but the best we got to find were a few dowdy crabs, the occasional lobster, shrimp and Rock Gurnards (a spiky fish an unpleasant sting).

One fine and sunny afternoon in Sitges I found a rock pool and in my usual Nancy Drew fashion decided to investigate.

 

The secret rock pool in Sitges where I found a surprise.

 

The pool had the normal suspects of black crabs, prawn and small fish but I spied something new to me, at least in person – the Sea Cucumber.

At around 15cm long with a slightly spiky texture it wallowed in the shallow water. I wasn’t brave enough to pick it up at first, especially as I’d seen plenty of horror films as a kid, David Cronenberg’s 1975 classic Shivers in particular.

I also didn’t want to disturb the poor thing as it was just performing its natural duty which is to clean the sea bed of excess crud.

 

The Sea Cucumber - Holothuroidea, minding its own business in a rock pool.

 

The Sea Cucumber is also known as Holothuroidea and can be eaten (as in Japan where they’re considered a delicacy) or left alone to live a prosperous existence in the custodial arts. It has a natural defence mechanism and when tampered with or attacked it will shoot a white, gloopy fluid from its head; very much like the natural defences of the male porn star.

I decided against finding out, no not with the male porn star. No I didn’t go near the male porn star in the first place. Oh grow up.

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