New sea cucumber species discovered

by Blair
Publish date
6 December 2011
Comments (5)

I just found out what you get when you combine a talented underwater photographer, the keen interest of a year 10 student volunteer, and a museum expert: five species new to science!

Cartoon of student, diver, scientist My schematic of this discovery, which also explains why I'm a scientist not a cartoonist.
Image: Blair Patullo
Source: Museum Victoria

In the latest Museum Victoria Memoirs there is a report that describes five new marine species, two of them from Victoria. Perhaps not that amazing considering that's partly what museums do – we discover and describe new species – but this report needed the help from two members of the community.

Firstly, a student volunteer spent over 30 hours looking down a microscope studying the species. And by chance, we also received an image from a recreational diver, participating in Reefwatch Victoria, that showed one of the species spawning in the wild. The result is a perfect combination of scientific detail and real life underwater action.

sea cucumber spawning The sea cucumber Paracaudina bacillis spawning at Rye Pier in Port Phillip Bay.
Image: D. McKenzie
Source: D. McKenzie

The new species are all sea cucumbers from the genus group Paracaudina. They were previously thought to be the same as the tropical species Paracaudina australis, which this report now confirms is unlikely to live in Victorian waters. These Paracaudina are some of the largest sea cucumber species in Australia.


P. Mark O'Loughlin, Shari Barmos and Didier VandenSpiegel. The paracaudinid sea cucumbers of Australia and New Zealand (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Molpadida: Caudinidae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 68 :37-65 (2011) (PDF, 2.86MB)

Reefwatch Victoria

MV Blog: Skeletons of sea cucumbers

MV Blog: Trepang today

Comments (5)

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Mark 11 December, 2011 19:32
Good work.
Karyl Kaye 6 August, 2014 20:00
We saw lots of what I suspect is these washed up on Safety Beach recently after the bad weather.
Jane and Max 1 July, 2015 16:41
Just found some of these alive and some dead washed up in cove around from Shoreham beach Westernport Bay- had not seen them before. They go smooth when dead and are banded with muscular ridges when alive.
Jeff & Darcy 16 March, 2016 16:56
We're just back from Rye bay beach (near pier) where we saw at least 50 of these sea cucumbers on sand banks at low tide.
Natalie 19 March, 2016 20:58
March 19 2016. Rye Pier. Many of these sea cucumbers having a party in the shallow waters just south of the pier, low tide and we lost count after 50. Anything from around 15cm through to 30cm. Overcast and windy day- maybe that is what brought them in? Took photos if you want them.
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