Sea Cucumbers Help Corals Survive

13.02.2012

Морской огурецSea cucumbers are the most amazing habitants of coral reefs. Scientists from Sydney figured out they are an important part of their ecosystems: holothurians – which is Latin name of these creatures -  produce excrements that are vital to corals’ recovery and development.

One of predicted consequences of the Global Warming is acidification of the Oceans, which leads to total extinction of corals. However, this process would have gone much faster without sea cucumbers. They inhale large amounts of sand from the sea bed together with plankton and organic residue – their natural food source. What comes out is more alkaline, which slows the acidification process. Besides, excrements of holothurians contain calcium carbonate – main material of coral skeletons.

Too bad, but holothurians can only postpone coral reefs’ death, but not outcast it. Researchers are looking for a way to use methods of sea cucumbers vastly to make their effort more efficient.