Sea Stars and Cucumbers

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The distinctive bright blue color of the aptly named blue sea star (Linckia laevigata) was easy to spot among the sand, rubble and occasional coral on the beach we snorkeled at today. We are in Guam for spring break and there were literally hundreds of blue sea stars in the water off of where we are staying. Such a strange color for nature which is usually, at least on land, full of greens and browns. I read where a new sea star can grow from a severed arm. It would be a good experiment to try…

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The other abundant Echinodermata were the sea cucumbers. We identified three different types. The most distinctive was the Pinkfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria edulis) seen on the far right. They are an edible species, which the Japanese serve with radish and soy sauce. The pink pigmentation on the bottom rubbed off on our hands. The cucumber on the far right I think is Panning’s Black Sea Cucumber (Actinopyga palauensis), a common inhabitant of “rubble and sand” which correctly describes the area today. We saw some covered in sand also, which may be the lollyfish sea cucumber, which I’ll try to photograph tomorrow. I am not sure the middle species. They were brown and generally fatter and shorter than the other sea cucumbers. It is closest to the Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra) but lacks the deeply creased body described in the guidebook.

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Oliver studies the blue sea star

I am using Paul Humann and Ned Deloach’s Tropical Pacific photographic guides this week. Exciting first day and hope to blog some more on the Pacific Ocean and Guam, flora and fauna.

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