Hydrothermal vent sea cucumber

Chiridota hydrothermica

ORDER Apodida

FAMILY Chiridotidae

TAXONOMY

Chiridota hydrothermica Smirnov, 2000, Manus Basin at 8,622 ft (2,628 m) depth (3°6.63'S, 50°21.62'E).

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Grayish brown, cylindrical holothuroid with thin, translucent body wall to more than 10 in (25.4 cm) long. Tentacles incompletely surround mouth, leaving a ventral gap. Tips of tentacles have round, flat lobes and scalloped edges. Ossicles are typical of the genus Chiridota. Wheel ossicles are concentrated in body-wall papillae and branched rods in the tentacles.

DISTRIBUTION

Manus and Fiji basins in equatorial western Pacific and southeast Pacific rise near the Galápagos Islands between 6,600 and 8,500 ft (2,010-2,590 m) depth.

HABITAT

Observed only within the immediate vicinity of active hydrothermal vents, sometimes at the base of black smoking chimneys on bare rock or atop communities of sessile vent organisms.

BEHAVIOR

Often seen with posterior end hidden in a crevice and in small aggregations of up to three individuals per square foot (0.1 m2).

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Suspension and deposit feeder. Feeds on suspended matter by raising the anterior end upward and spreading its tentacles but also has been seen feeding on benthic material.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Gonad is composed of clusters of short tubercles to 0.6 in (1.5 cm) long. Nothing else concerning reproduction is known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN or under the CITES convention.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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