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by Drew Cunliffe

A Cornish Aquarium is showcasing a bizarre apple-shaped sea cucumber from Australia in a new toxic display.

The sea apple is on show at Newquay’s ‘Blue Reef’ seafront attraction.

The primitive animal is a type of sea cucumber, also related to urchins and starfish.

It gets its name from its apple-shaped appearance and is bright colours, which considerately warn would-be predators it’s poisonous.

Blue Reef curator Matt Slater said: “This is the first time we have been able to put sea apples on display and they really are extremely unusual creatures.

“We’ve had to keep them in their own display away from the other fish as they are extremely dangerous.

“They have highly dangerous toxins within their body tissues.

“In addition to their toxicity, the sea apples also possess the ability to expel their internal organs to distract predators.

“One final trick they use is to consume large amounts of surrounding seawater to swell to nearly double their original size.

“This enables them to drift to a new area on currents much more quickly than they could walk.”

They share their new display with a colony of their close relative and fellow echinoderm the candy sea cucumber.

“It’s quite unusual to have an aquarium display without any fish in it but these are such bizarre creatures that we felt they deserved it,” added Matt.

Did you know?

The bodies and tentacles of sea apples come in many different colourings.

The Australian species has a primarily purple body, red feet, and purple and white tentacles.

The sea apple feeds primarily on plankton, which it filters from the water with its tentacles.

They alternately bring each tentacle to its mouth, feeding itself from the captured plankton.

Sea apples usually feed at night, when their delicate tentacles are less at risk from predators.

Scientists believe they’re most closely related to the early vertebrates –
so in some ways they’re actually our distant evolutionary ancestors!

Posted by on January 23, 2012. Filed under NEWS,WILD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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