Sea cucumber (Thelenota sp.) spawning. Microscopic sex cells (gametes) are being released to allow fertilisation (the fusing of a male and a female sex cell). The resulting larvae may grow into adult sea cucumbers. This marine invertebrate is a member of a group of animals (echinoderms) that includes starfish. A sea cucumber lives on the sea floor, crawling on its projecting tube feet, but mostly remaining motionless and gathering its food from the water. It feeds on microscopic sea life (plankton) and also extracts nutrients from the surrounding mud. Sea cucumbers range in length from 2 centimetres to 2 metres. They are found worldwide. Photographed in the Red Sea
© PETER SCOONES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Starfish on a beach
Starfish washed up on a pebble beach. Starfish, also known as sea stars, are a type of marine invertebrate. They have typical radial symmetry, with five arms branching off a central region. The underside includes the mouth and tube-like feet used to move across the seabed. Starfish can survive for some time out of the sea, but eventually dehydrate and die. Photographed in Oregon, USA
© TONY CRADDOCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Red cushion sea star -Oreaster reticulatus-, protected species, Playa Ancon beach, near Trinidad, Cuba, Caribbean
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