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Spotted Worm Sea Cucumber Video Stock Footage
S. maculata is a long, slender sea cucumber with fifteen tentacles, growing to a length of about 2 m (7 ft). Although not the heaviest or bulkiest sea cucumber in the world, it is probably the longest, with individuals exceptionally reaching to over 3 m (10 ft). Its colouring is variable, being some shade of yellowish-brown with wide longitudinal stripes and patches of darker colour. The spicules (microscopic calcareous spike-like structures that support the body wall) are large and shaped like anchors and are used in locomotion they can be as long as 2 mm. The spicules are adhesive, and the sea cucumber is very difficult to detach from a wetsuit. The outer surface of the tentacles bears numerous vesicular cells, and there are a few scattered vesicles on the body surface also. The function of these cells is unclear, but it is suggested that they may contain a noxious substance and serve a defensive function. The tentacles are particularly vulnerable to predation by fish, but if they taste nasty, that enables the sea cucumber to spend a greater proportion of its time feeding, rather than having to keep retracting its tentacles whenever a fish approaches. There are also some cup-shaped structures on the inside of the tentacles near the stem. It is hypothesized that these are rudimentary sensory organs, able to taste the edibility of the food material that the animal is transporting to its mouth.
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