Nautilus Discovers a New Kind of Translucent Sea Cucumber with Bright Orange Intestines!

With only 5% of our ocean explored according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is no doubt that there are many more discoveries we can make about the vast marine world and everything that lives in it.

Just recently, scientists aboard E/V Nautilus discovered an unknown sea cucumber species with a transparent body whose intestines looked like a bunch of glowing “Cheetos”!

Photo: YouTube/EVNautilus

The Nautilus scientists were exploring the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument located southeast of Honolulu, Hawaii, when they chanced upon the strange creature, Megan Cook, director of education and outreach at the Nautilus Live of the Ocean Exploration Trust, told Live Science.

Footage was captured by the team’s remotely operating vehicle (ROV) Hercules, which was submerged at a depth of approximately 2,201 meters to explore a mysterious seamount at Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll.

Just then, there appeared this floating sea cucumber, which was as transparent as glass. Its mouth, tentacles, and guts could be clearly seen, which, to the operators’ amazement, were bright orange!

Photo: YouTube/EVNautilus

It’s a new sea cucumber species, belonging to the family Elpidiidae under the phylum Echinodermata, which makes it a close relative of sea urchins, sand dollars, and starfish.

Currently, there are about 1,250 known sea cucumber species, and some of them inhabit shallow parts of the ocean, while others prefer the deep. These creatures are scavengers that help in keeping the marine ecosystem healthy.

Another amazing characteristic of sea cucumbers is the ability to eject their internal organs through their anus to escape predators. Then, they quickly regenerate these missing body parts.

Photo: YouTube/EVNautilus

However, with this new cucumber species, it is not yet known if it has the same adaptation, according to Cook.

Moreover, there was another translucent animal that the cameras of ROV Hercules had also taken footage of. A tunicate, better known as a sea squirt. It is not related to sea cucumbers but belongs to the phylum Chordata.

There are more than 2,300 sea squirt species whose color varies depending on the environment where they live and their type of subspecies. Sea squirts may be white, brown, beige, purple, dark blue, green, yellow, and pink. These small animals are amazing marine scavengers, too!

Watch this video from Nautilus Live!

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