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 photos copyright John P. Hoover unless otherwise credited

Some interesting sea cucumbers not in Hawaii's Sea Creatures

Many of Hawaii's sea cucumbers are poorly-known and some are undescribed.
Dr. Gustav Paulay and Cory Pittman are currently studying Hawaii's lesser-known sea cucumbers.

Here's an (unofficial?) Bishop Museum list of Hawaiian sea cucumbers


Bohadschia sp.
    This cucumber is an undescribed species of Bohadschia. Acccording to Gustav Paulay it has also been found as far west as Indonesia. It is uncommon. The pictured animal was buried in sand up to its anus at about 45 ft. off Makua, O`ahu, in July 2006 (see bottom photo). It was collected, preserved, and sent to Dr. Paulay. It's a large animal, maybe 14 in. long. Since then I have found others at several spots off the south shore of Maui, and also at Ho`okena and Honokohau on the Big Island, from 50 - 90 ft. Recently Keoki Stender found several at a depth of only 12 ft. in the channel at Sand Island, O`ahu.

Molokini Islet, 190 ft. Mike Severns
family Stichopodidae
   This undescribed sea cucumber is known so far only from Hawaii, typically at depths of 150 ft. or more. However, divers at Molokini Islet, Maui, have seen them as shallow as 60 ft. The photo above by Mike Severns appears on p 323 of my book in all printings prior to 2014. In the August 2014 printing, however, I replaced it with a photo of the undescribed Bohadschia (at top of page), as that species is much more likely to be encountered by scuba divers. Below is a photo by Rob Whitton of a juvenile about 3.5 inches long found off Waikiki, Oahu, at 150 ft. It was subsequently collected and sent to Dr. Gustav Paulay for study.

juvenile about 3.5 in. long off Waikiki, Oahu, 150 ft. Rob Whitton

Holothuria hawaiiensis Fisher, 1907
family Holothuriidae
photo: Cory Pittman, Kapalua Bay, Maui

Holothuria fuscorubra Theel, 1886
family Holothuriidae
photo: Maliko Bay, Maui. depth 10 ft.


Holothuria flavomaculata Semper, 1868
family Holothuriidae
     This cucumber anchors the rear portion of its body in a crevice and extends the front part forward to feed. It quickly retracts when sensing danger. Even if caught before it retracts, it is almost impossible to remove from the crevice. The body will tear before it lets go. However, I have also found them loose under stones and rubble. The species is uncommon in Hawai`i. In 1997 I sent tissue from the specimen pictured to Dr. Dave Pawson of the Smithsonian Institution, who kindly examined the spicules and made the identification. It was the first record for this species in Hawai`i. Photo: Mäkaha, O`ahu. 15 ft.

photo: Pauline Fiene

Holothuria cf. impatiens
Pauline Fiene found this unusual cucumber at about 30 ft. under a rock off Lanai in May, 2010. It resembles Holothuria impatiens (called "Impatient Sea Cucumber" in my book). Holothuria impatiens usually ejects sticky white threads at the slightest provocation, but Pauline reports that this cucumber did not eject sticky threads. Since it does not quite look like a normal impatiens, and doesn't behave like one,
it could be something else.

Chiridota sp.
family Synaptidae
     These tiny cucumbers live just under the sand in shallow water.. Fully expanded, they are about 3 in. long. Two species of Chiridota have been recorded from Hawai`i: C. rigida and C. hawaiiensis. The photo was taken somewhere on O`ahu.
Holothuria inhabilis Selenka, 1867
family Holothuriidae
     This is a small, firm species that collects sand on its upper surface like H. atra and H. whitmaei. Unlike those species, it conceals itself under rocks during the day and is cream with isolated brown papillae if you rub off the sand. This one was 13.5 cm in length. It was found in tide pools at Napili Bay, west Maui. Photo and notes by Cory Pittman.

Holothuria lineata
family Holothuriidae
photo: Hekili Point, Maui. depth 1 ft.

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  Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover unless otherwise credited