I'll admit it: Until now, I've never particularly liked Sea Cucumbers.
Sure, they play an important ecological role as vacuum cleaners of the sea floor, but typically they look like so many discarded pickles, or worse, at the water's bottom.
But then I encountered the amazing California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus)
. Large, orange, and very spikey, with many tube-feet for mobility, this is one impressive creature
Also pictured, in the left foreground, is the oval-shaped, 8 segment, pink Lined Chiton (Tonicella lokii)
. The chiton is adjacent to a small patch of crustose coralline red algae, which it eats and from which derives its color. According to A Living Bay: The Underwater World of Monterey Bay
by Lovell and Libby Langstroth, Tonicella
have a rasping tongue made of the iron-based mineral magnetite. This makes their tongue, or radula
, much harder than the calcium carbonate in the coralline algae that they grind against. The authors also suggest that the magnetite may serve as a navigational aid.
Photo taken June 15, 2014 while diving at the Aquarium Anchor
site of Monterey Bay in California at a depth of roughly 50 ft (~15 m). #montereybay #scuba #underwaterphotography #seacucumber #chiton #magnetite #algae #coralline