Sea creatures come in all shapes, colors, and sizes — and so do their poops!
Recent footage of a giant sea cucumber defecating at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean proves this.
Southern Islander Dive Tours, which is located in Naha City, Okinawa, Japan, shared video of the rather unusual footage on its YouTube channel earlier this month.
But it was Live Science who, after speaking to Christopher Mah, an invertebrate zoologist who is also a researcher with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., revealed that the animal in the video was a giant sea cucumber (Thelenota anax).
According to Mah, the creature, widely found in Indo-Pacific waters, can be as long as two feet in length and about five inches wide.
The sea cucumber “looks more like a pickle with an unmentionable skin disease” and “can look like a ridged, knobbly, or even spiked giant sea slug,” noted Amina Khan in her 2017 book, Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future, an excerpt of which was published on the Popular Science website.
The bottom-feeders, which have no brain, crawl along the sandy ocean floors, eating any kind of debris they can find, “from carcasses to excrement,” wrote Khan.
“It’s a crucial cleaning service for the world’s oceans. Sea cucumbers clean all that crap out of the water and off of the substrate, and then poop out nice, ‘clean’ sandy substrate. They’re the earthworms of the sea in that way, recycling decomposing matter and aerating the seafloor.”
People in China and Korea consider sea cucumbers a delicacy and enjoy eating the animals because of their briny taste.
But, on Live Science, Mah’s description of the creatures doesn’t sound too appealing.
“A sea cucumber is basically one big chunk of intestine — mouth on one end, anus on the other — so that water can sometimes go in and out of either opening,” he explained.
At the start of the 58-second video, we see the creature opening and closing a hole on one of its ends several times.
To the untrained eye, it simply looks like the giant sea cucumber is just breathing.
However, Mah said it could either be “feeding through its butt” or having muscular contractions in order to release its poop.
It then rids itself of the waste, which comes out in one super-long, spirally log that takes two pushes to expel.
After it’s done, the creature quickly backs away from the turd.
Watch the engrossing video of the giant sea cucumber pooping below.