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Scotoplanes globosa1.jpg
Scotoplanes globosa.jpg
Scotoplanes globosa
Scientific classification

Théel, 1882[1]

Scotoplanes, commonly known as the sea pig, is a genus of deep-sea sea cucumbers of the family Elpidiidae, order Elasipodida.


Members of the Elpidiidae have particularly enlarged tube feet that have taken on a leg-like appearance, using water cavities within the skin to inflate and deflate the appendages.[2] Scotoplanes modify surficial elements in the ocean by moving through the sediment like a bulldozer. While the Scotoplanes move through the sediment, Scotoplanes disrupt the surface and the resident infauna as it digests sediment.[3]


Scotoplanes live on deep ocean bottoms, specifically on the abyssal plain in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean, typically at depths of over 1200[4]–5000 metres.[5] Some related species can be found in the Antarctic. Scotoplanes (and all deep-sea holothurians) are deposit feeders, and obtain food by extracting organic particles from deep-sea mud. Scotoplanes globosa has been observed to demonstrate strong preferences for rich, organic food that has freshly fallen from the ocean's surface,[6] and uses olfaction to locate preferred food sources such as whale corpses.[7]

Scotoplanes, like many sea cucumbers, often occur in huge densities, sometimes numbering in the hundreds when observed. Early collections have recorded 300 to 600 individual specimens per trawl. Sea pigs are also known to host different parasitic invertebrates, including gastropods (snails) and small tanaid crustaceans.[citation needed]

A living Scotoplanes from Monterey Bay with a juvenile Neolithodes diomedae king crab sheltering beneath it at a depth of approx. 1260 metres. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 2016.


The genus includes the following species:[8]


  1. ^ Théel, H (1886). "Report on the Holothurioidea dredged by HMS Challenger during the years 1873-76". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Hansen, B. (1972). "Photographic evidence of a unique type of walking in deep-sea holothurians". Deep-Sea Research and Oceanographic Abstracts. 19 (6): 461–462. doi:10.1016/0011-7471(72)90056-3.
  3. ^ Blake, James A.; Maciolek, Nancy J.; Ota, Allan Y.; Williams, Isabelle P. (2009-09-01). "Long-term benthic infaunal monitoring at a deep-ocean dredged material disposal site off Northern California". Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 56 (19–20): 1775–1803. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.05.021.
  4. ^ Barry, James P.; Taylor, Josi R.; Kuhnz, Linda A.; De Vogelaere, Andrew P. (2016-10-01). "Symbiosis between the holothurian Scotoplanes sp. A and the lithodid crab Neolithodes diomedeae on a featureless bathyal sediment plain". Marine Ecology. 38 (2): n/a. doi:10.1111/maec.12396. ISSN 1439-0485.
  5. ^ Llano, George Biology of the Antarctic Seas III, Volume 11 of Antarctic research series, Volume 3 of Biology of the Antarctic seas, Issue 1579 of Publication (National Research Council (U.S.))) American Geophysical Union, 1967, p. 57
  6. ^ Miller, R. J.; Smith, C. R.; Demaster, D. J.; Fornes, W. L. (2000). "Feeding selectivity and rapid particle processing by deep-sea megafaunal deposit feeders: A 234Th tracer approach". Journal of Marine Research. 58 (4): 653. doi:10.1357/002224000321511061.
  7. ^ Pawson, DL; Vance, DJ (2005). "Rynkatorpa felderi, new species, from a bathyal hydrocarbon seep in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Apodida)". Zootaxa. 1050: 15–20. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1050.1.2.
  8. ^ – Scotoplanes

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Ruhl, Henry A., and Kenneth L. Smith, Jr. "Go to Science." Science Magazine: Sign In. Science., 23 July 2004. Web. 1 May 2015. [1]

  1. ^ Ruhl, Henry A.; Smith, Kenneth L. Jr. (23 July 2004). "Shifts in Deep-Sea Community Structure Linked to Climate and Food Supply". Science. 305 (5683): 513–515. doi:10.1126/science.1099759. PMID 15273392. Retrieved 1 May 2015.