Posted by: keepfishing | November 17, 2005

Pearl harbourer

Now that the furore regarding my hair has died down, I feel it appropriate to answer some FAQs and let the matter go to bed (something I need to get better at myself). Anyway, yes it does make me look 5 years younger, yes I have had my first shave in over 3 months making me look an extra 3 years younger and yes, I’m going to let it grow back because I don’t like getting ID’d (not that it has happened since the cut, but it’s only a matter of time – the last incident was around the time of my most recent shave back in August).

With a lack of anything else amusing to write about, I feel there is a need to educate you, my dear readers in some of the ways of the sea. Now I realise I may have blogged about this in eons past, so if this isn’t new, skip the rest and abuse me in the comments section, but I believe this information of enough importance to share with newer readers.

So here begins the science lesson about the mighty echinoderm, the sea cucumber! Contrary to popular belief, these creatures are much more than a sub aqua version their distinctly sessile terrestial namesakes. In fact they have nothign in common at all, apart from vaguely looking like each other (apparently). By enlarge these beautiful animals are pretty boring – the graze the sand, sucking it up, gleaning the nutrients (derived from tasty decaying matter) and pooping the sand back out. However, they are only boring until you discover the amazing fact about them…..

First of all, they breath through their anus. That is, they don’t have gills because they aren’t fish, but the pump in water through their bum and do the gas exchange around there. However, the story doesn’t end there – a brilliant little oppertunist known as the Pearl fish has decided to grasp the oppertunity and take up residence in the sea cucumber’s rectum. So the fish wait until the fish breathes (I don’t want to be too graphic here), avoids the protective anal teeth (I’m not making this up!) and then darts inside. Opinion is divided as to whether it’s a parasitic or symbiotic relationship, but if you ask me when there’s a fish sitting inside you nibbling on your gonads (another endearing trait of the pearl fish), I’m not too sure you’re going to be too pleased about it. Especially when the fish gets bored and rather than exciting through the entry route, decides to eat it’s way out through your gut. My vote is firmly with the parasitic.

(The pearl fish exits and enters our poor holothurian friend Mr. Sea Cucumber)

Anyway, apparently a third of all sea cucumbers have got one of these little blighters in them. And now approximately a third of you will be able to amaze your friends with your fascinating scientific knowledge!

(Credit to John Arundell for the post title (that’s how to avoid plagiarism KC Clarke!))



  1. Not sure about that Lindop… sounds like a bum job to me (sorry).

    Still interesting pics of these animals (though I’m not sure there was any need for the penultimate one), think you should credit your readership with enough intelligence to imagine what such an act looks like (or not as the case may be). Also you have a duty to protect minors from these images!


  2. reading that made me feel a little nauseated…


  3. Alasdair, your hair was freakin’ AWESOME. Get it back.

  4. It’s growing, it’s growing….

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