Sea cucumbers are echinoderms which means their are closely related to starfish and urchins. They cucumbers are typically 10 to 30 cm in length, although the smallest known species is just 3 mm long, and the largest grows up to 3 m. As their name suggests, most sea cucumbers have a soft, cylindrical and elongated body.
Sea cucumbers can be found everywhere on the ocean floor but in remarkable high numbers on the deep seafloor, where they often make up the majority of the animal biomass.At depths larger than 8.9 km, sea cucumbers comprise 90% of the total mass of the macrofauna. Sea cucumbers form large herds that move at the bottom of the ocean, hunting for food.
Many sea cucumbers are valued as food and as a source of medicine, and Stichopus is a commonly exploited genus. Today's new species, found in the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, is a member of this genus and its name is derived from the Latin words of fusiform (fusiformis) and bone (ossa).
For the experts: Five sea cucumber species including one new species of the genus Stichopus are reported from the shallow coral reefs of Straits of Malacca. The new species Stichopus fusiformiossa has unusual fusiform spicules in the tentacles, which are not found in the other species of the genus. Pseudo-tables and large perforated plates are newly recorded for Stichopus hermanni Semper, 1868 and Stichopus vastus Sluiter, 1887, respectively.