The Kid Should See This

Sea cucumbers are underwater vacuum cleaners

Join biologist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg on the ocean sandy floor of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to witness an incredibly important ecological process: sea cucumbers pooping.

Why is this so important? When sea cucumbers scavenge the ocean floor for their food, “tiny particles like algae, minute aquatic animals, or waste materials,” they’re also eating lots of sand. As the sand is expelled, some key things are happening:

“When they ingest sand, the natural digestive processes in the sea cucumber’s gut increases the pH levels of the water on the reef where they defecate, countering the negative effects of ocean acidification,” said Professor Byrne.

One of the by-products of the sea cucumber’s digestion of sand is calcium carbonate (CaCO3) a key component of coral. To survive, coral reefs must accumulate CaCO3 at a rate greater than or equal to the CaCO3 that is eroded from the reef.

“The research at One Tree Island showed that in a healthy reef, dissolution of calcium carbonate sediment by sea cucumbers and other bioeroders appears to be an important component of the natural calcium carbonate turnover,” said Professor Byrne.

“The ammonia waste produced when sea cucumbers digest sand also serves to fertilise the surrounding area, providing nutrients for coral growth,” she added.

Sea cucumbers = healthier coral reefs.

In the archives: more filter feeders, more echinoderms, and more poop.

This award-winning video collection is reader-supported. Become a sustaining member to keep TKSST online and free for everyone, including teachers and parents who use it as a resource to spark learning and curiosity for kids.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

‘Giant’ larvaceans filter the ocean with mucous webs

Rion Nakaya

Why do millipedes have so many legs?

Rion Nakaya

The GPS-navigated rolling of the dung beetle

Rion Nakaya

The Unlikely Tale of a Tenacious Snail – Science Friday

Rion Nakaya

Poop Guy: A dad who is revolutionizing sanitation in Pune, India

Rion Nakaya

Explore wastewater treatment with LeVar Burton

Rion Nakaya

Powered by Poop at the Straus Family Creamery

Rion Nakaya

What do sand dollars look like when they’re alive?

Rion Nakaya

The World’s First Poo Museum

Rion Nakaya

Get smart curated videos delivered every week.    
Subscribe