Only one species of sea cucumber is common around the New Zealand coast. This is Stichopus mollis, or rori. A soft-bodied, sluggish creature, it moves over rocky reefs gathering up sediment and organic debris in its tentacles. Its major defensive action is, remarkably, to expel its digestive organs through its bottom. This would be a fatal action for any other animal, but the sea cucumber can regenerate its internal organs.
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NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Photograph by Malcolm Francis
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