Lampert’s Sea Cucumber, Synaptula lamperti

Synaptula lamperti is a species of sea cucumber that can be found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific. Its range includes the coastal waters of Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Micronesia. It does not have the tube feet, which are common to other species of sea cucumber, instead moving around by using a small grouping of pinnate feeding tentacles, which are always moving. It can also move by using the small, hook-like bones found along its body, attaching itself to the sea floor with one end and using muscle contractions to direct its movements.

Synaptula lamperti is typically found in or on coral reefs. Although other species of sea cucumber are exclusively male or female, this species will sometimes have hermaphroditic individuals. It is thought to breed in a similar manner to other species of sea cucumber, and hermaphroditic individuals are able to reproduce on their own. If an individual is injured or split in half, both the front end and back end can form into a new, adult sea cucumber.

The diet of Synaptula lamperti consists of living sponges known as Ianthella basta. It is thought that this specialized diet is needed in order to properly sustain the sea cucumber. By feeding on these sponges, the sea cucumber can extract nutrients from the creature itself, but also particles from diatoms and other food types that the sponges accumulate. This species will consume the sponges during the night and is able to digest its food within an hour of consuming it.

Image Caption: The striped body and feeding tentacles of Lampert’s Sea Cucumber (Synaptula lamperti). Steve’s Bommie, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Richard Ling / Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)