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Holothuria grisea Selenka, 1867
Family: Holothuriidae
Common names: Gray Sea Cucumber
Synonyms: Halodeima grisea ,  more...
Holothuria grisea image
Holothuria grisea  

Species Description: The body of the gray sea cucumber, Holothuria grisea, is subcylindrical with a flattened sole covered in cylindrical tube feet (Hendler et al. 1995). In adults, six rows of papillae are found on the surface of the upper body. Juveniles have four rows. The papillae originate from large warts, each surrounded by 5-10 small tube feet. The mouth is positioned downward slightly, and is encircled by 20-25 bushy peltate tentacles.

The gray sea cucumber has a more striking color pattern than its name suggests, which is a distinguishing feature in the species. Base colors include variations of red or yellowish red, marked with brown mottling (Hendler et al. 1995). Papillae on the upper body are white with yellow tips, the feet on the sole are tipped in yellow, and the tentacles are yellow.

The body wall ossicles, including tables with 12 marginal spines on the disk, are scattered (Hendler et al. 1995). H. grisea also has an inner layer of plates with two or four central holes, smaller peripheral holes, and blunt teeth surrounding the margin.

Habitat & Regional Occurrence: H. grisea inhabits seagrass beds, sand flats and, can often be found in Florida on reefs created by the worm Phragmatopoma lapidosa (Hendler et al. 1995). Individuals are found intertidally to a depth of less than 5 m.

The broad range of H. grisea extends from Florida (although not reported in the Florida Keys) to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Lesser Antilles to Curaςao, Panama, Colombia, southern Brazil and West Africa (Hendler et al. 1995). This species may be a seasonal resident of coastal Texas (Pomory 1989).

Indian River Lagoon Distribution: The gray sea cucumber can be found throughout the IRL, although it appears to be most prevalent near inlets on rock-lined jetties and among worm reefs (LH Sweat, personal observation). H. grisea is reportedly more abundant in the summer months, even when salinities and temperatures increase substantially in shallow lagoon areas (Hendler et al. 1995).

Size: The gray sea cucumber can attain a length of about 25 cm (Hendler et al. 1995).

Trophic Mode: Like several holothurians, H. grisea is primarily a deposit feeder, gathering organic matter and sediments with its branched feeding tentacles.

Hadel FV, Monteiro AMV, Ditadi ASF, Tiago CG & LR Tommasi. 1999. Invertebrados marinhos: echinodermata. In: Joly CA & CEM Bicudo (Eds). Biodiversidade do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil: síntese ao conhecimento ao final do século XX, 3. FAPESP.

Hendler G, Miller JE, Pawson DL & PM Kier. 1995. Sea stars, sea urchins, and allies: echinoderms of Florida and the Caribbean. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C. 390 pp.

Pomory C. 1989. Range extensions for Isostichopus badionotus Selenka, 1867 and Holothuria (Halodeima) grisea Selenka, 1867 (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea). Texas J. Sci. 41: 330-331.

Tommasi LR. 1969. Lista dos holothuroidea recentes do Brasil. Contribuições Avulsas do Instituto Oceanográfico. Universidade de São Paulo, série Oceanografia Biológica, São Paulo 15:1–29.

Aboral: In a direction away from the mouth; the part of the body opposite the mouth.

Anal Cone: In crinoids and echinoids, a fleshy projection bearing the anus at its apex; also known as an anal tube.

Apical System: In echinoids, a ring of specialized skeletal plates, including the genital plates and ocular plates; usually located on the highest point of the test.

Arm: In asteroids, crinoids, and ophiuroids, a movable, jointed ambulacral projection, distal to the disk or calyx that carries a radial branch of the water vascular system and the nervous system; sometimes called a ray.

Basket: One of several types of microscopic skeletal ossicles in holothuroids; minute cup-shaped ossicle, usually with four projections.

Button: One of several types of microscopic skeletal ossicles in holothuroids; minute ossicle with four perforations; may be smooth or knobbed.

Disk: The round or pentagonal central body region of ophiuroids and asteroids; see also Terminal Disk.

Distal: In a direction away from the center of the body; for example, toward the tip of the arm in asteroids or the tip of a spine in echinoids.

Dorsal: In echinoderms, this term is variously applied; in asteroids, ophiuroids and echinoids it usually refers to the surface of the body that is opposite the mouth, the surface that is uppermost; in holothuroids, with mouth and anus opposite ends of the cylindrical body, the uppermost surface is considered dorsal; in crinoids, the surface opposite the mouth in considered dorsal by convention, even though it is functionally the ventral (lower) side.

Echinulate: Something spiny or prickly, usually referring to the microscopic texture of a skeletal element such as a spine.

Hermaphrodism: A condition in organisms whereby one individual possesses both functional male and female reproductive structures; hermaphroditic individuals may express both sexes simultaneously, alternately, or sequentially.

Interambulacral Area: An oral or aboral section of the body lying between two ambulacra; in interradius; also known as an interambulacrum.

Interradial: Referring to interambulacral areas of the body; interradius and interradii also commonly used.

Oral: In a direction toward the mouth; a part of the body on the same surface as the mouth.

Oral Papillae: In ophiuroids, small plates at the edge of the mouth, attached to the edges of the jaw plate and/or to the aboral shield; may be variously shaped, from spine-like to scale-like.

Papillae: In holothuroids, specialized dorsal tube feet that lack a suckered tip; in ophiuroids, certain skeletal elements of the jaws or disk.

Papillate: Covered with papillae.

Papillose: Covered with papillae.

Pedicellariae: Small stalked or unstalked pincer-like organs on the body of asteroids and echinoids, used for defense and grooming.

Peltate: Shield-shaped; used to describe the tentacles of some holothuroids.

Perforated Plate: One of several types of microscopic skeletal ossicles in holothuroids; sieve-like and widespread; may also be found in other echinoderm classes, especially in juvenile individuals.

Periproct: In echinoids, a flexible region surrounding the anus, which consists of a membrane containing embedded plates and often bearing spines and pedicellariae.

Plates: One of several types of skeletal elements in echinoderms; tabular structures with a characteristic shape and a fixed position.

Primary Plates: The first-formed plates on the dorsal side of the disk; in ophiuroids, these are the central and five radial plates; in adults, they may form a rosette of scales near the center of the disk, or they may be separated by numerous secondarily developed scales.

Radial: In a direction toward the central axis of an arm or ambulacrum; a part of the body near an arm or ambulacrum.

Radial Shields: Pairs of plates on the dorsal surface of the ophiuroid disk, which lie near the base of each arm; usually relatively large and conspicuous, but may be hidden by granules or superficial scales.

Rods: One of several types of microscopic skeletal ossicles in holothuroids; commonly found as supporting structures in tentacles or tube feet.

Scales: One of several types of skeletal elements in echinoderms; flat, thin structures that are overlapping, tessellate, or haphazardly arrayed.

Sole: In some holothuroids, the flattened ventral part of the body, either covered with or surrounded by tube feet.

Spines: One of several skeletal elements in echinoderms; movable, articulating structures that are long, slender and attenuated.

Teeth: In ophiuroids, small plates or spines attached to the dental plate on the inner edge of the jaw, a series of them extending into the mouth; in echinoids, the five hard, sharp, and movable ossicles incorporated in Aristotle’s lantern; the term also refers to five movable ossicles that surround the anus of some holothuroids.

Tentacle Scales: Small, movable spines or scales, associated with ophiuroid tube feet, which are attached to the ventral arm plate and/or lateral arm plate; may cover the tentacle pores and protect the retracted tube feet.

Tentacles: In holothuroids, feeding structures in the form of highly modified tube feet arranged in a ring around the mouth.

Terminal Disk: Round portion on the end of the tube foot in many echinoderms; usually employed for attachment to substrates.

Tube Feet: Fluid-filled, fingerlike extensions of the water vascular system that protrude through the openings in the skeleton or between skeletal elements; muscles and nerves in the shaft of the tube feet control their movements; glands, and sometimes a muscular sucker, at the tip function in adhesion; specialized tube feet are used for locomotion, feeding, burrowing, respiration, and a combination of functions.

Ventral: In echinoderms, this term is variously applied; in asteroids, echinoids and ophiuroids, it is the surface of the body that carries the mouth; this surface is in contact with the substrate; in holothuroids, with mouth and anus at opposite ends of a cylindrical body, the ventral surface is lowermost, in contact with the substrate; in crinoids, the ventral surface carries the mouth and is functionally the uppermost surface.

Holothuria grisea image
Holothuria grisea  
Holothuria grisea image
Holothuria grisea