Black sea cucumber
This sea cucumber is uniformly black and like other sea cucumbers, its body is divided lengthwise into five distinct bands. The sea cucumber’s underside , or sole, has four rows of hydraulic tube feet on each of the bands. The black sea cucumber’s upper surface also has tube feet, but these are less dense than those on its sole.
The mouth of the black sea cucumber is surrounded by ten branching tentacles which it uses to trap small prey animals.
Black sea cucumbers live on the rocky shores along South Africa’s eastern and southern coasts. They typically wedge themselves into crevasses near the low-tide mark.
Black sea cucumbers go through three life stages. Eggs are fertilized externally and hatch into larvae that free-float and feed on plankton. These larvae develop into doliolariae, barrel-shaped plankton that do not feed, but seek out a reef to latch onto. The final phase develops when the tentacles grow from the doliolariae and they begin to feed, eventually growing tube feet.