Sea cucumbers

The pale sea cucumber (Cucumaria pulcherrima) grows 1–2 inches long. (Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

There are more than 1,200 sea cucumbers in the world’s oceans and their bays. The Chesapeake Bay is home to two of these creatures, the common sea cucumber and the pale sea cucumber. Take this quiz to learn more about these amazing creatures. Answers are below.

1. Sea cucumbers are invertebrates. What makes it an invertebrate?

A. It can turn itself inside out.

B. It has an outer shell.

C. It has no backbone.

D. It has spikes.

2. If you were one of the many animals that likes to eat sea cucumbers — or a curious human picking one up — what might the sea cucumber do to get away?

A. Squirt water out of its rear end

B. Squirt thorns out of its rear end

C. Squirt its intestines out of its rear end

D. A & C

3. The tube-like appendages that surround the common sea cucumbers are:

A. Camouflage

B. Fat storage

C. Feet

D. Eye-like organs

4. How do sea cucumbers eat?

A. They suck up  food like a vacuum.

B. They have 10 finger-like tentacles that capture food

and deliver it to the mouth.

C. Food is absorbed through the skin.

D. They have a rough tongue that scrapes food off rocks and coral.

5. How are sea cucumbers like the vegetable cucumber?

A. Most of them are dark green.

B. Most of them are long and thicker in the middle, with tapered ends.

C. They are cooler than their surroundings.

D. When cut into sections, their internal structure resembles the sliced vegetable.

6. Sea cucumbers are able to grow back limbs lost while escaping predators. On average, how long does it take a sea cucumber to grow back a lost tentacle?

A. About 3 days

B. About 3 weeks

C. About 3 months

D. About 3 years

7. What is a group of sea cucumbers called?

A. Herd

B. Pickle

C. Salad

D. A & B

ANSWERS: 1. C   2. D   3. C   4. B   5.  B  6. B   7. D

Kathleen Gaskell is the Bay Journal's copy and layout editor and author of the Chesapeake Challenge. Contact Kathleen at

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