Interesting Facts About Sea Pigs: They Fit In The Palm Of Your Hand!

Down in the dark depths of the sea lives a creature with a translucent body, tube feet that resemble antennae on its head, and an appetite for decomposing things. Scotoplanes globosa, also known as sea pigs, are a type of sea cucumber that feed by way of their face tentacles as they stroll along the ocean floor.
The average sea pig has a fat, oval body, with a length ranging from 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches). The mouth is surrounded by ten feeding tentacles and they have five to seven pairs of feet, which are used exclusively for walking on the sea bottom.
They have three pairs of papillae on the upper surface of the body. The two are long and whip-like, but the third pair is short and inconspicuous.
The animals commonly known as sea pigs are in fact a type of sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, a group of marine animals that includes sea urchins and starfish.
Sea pigs are found in all the world’s oceans. In some areas, they comprise more than 95% of the total weight of animals on the deep-sea floor. Despite their abundance, most people will never see a sea pig, as they live in the coldest and deepest parts of the ocean. These little piggies are both cute and play an essential role in the ocean ecosystem.
Their conservation status has yet to be officially evaluated, however they are not believed to be threatened due to their global distribution and their seemingly abundant numbers.
Their biggest threat is deep sea trawling as the average trawler, sweeps, catches and obviously kills, 300 to 600 sea pigs. Perhaps trawling may pose a serious problem in the future.
Want to learn more about these creatures? Read on to find more interesting facts about Sea Pigs:
1. Swedish zoologist Johan Hjalmar Théel first discovered sea pigs over a century ago, as one of around 65 new species he described in writings about a four-year research cruise around the world aboard the HMS Challenger from 1872 to 1876. Since then, researchers have learned that the creatures congregate around dead whales and other sunken corpses and dine on the decomposing flesh.
2. Sea pigs are deposit feeders that obtain their food by extracting organic particles from deep-sea mud. They have a high preference for rich and organic sources that have recently fallen from the ocean’s surface (e.g. a dead whale).
They mainly use their sense of smell to detect their food. This is why they are commonly found facing towards the prevailing currents. They use the ring of tentacles that surrounds the mouth to feed and absorb nutrients.
3. They’ve got crabs (in a good way). Sea pigs aren’t the only ones making a life at the bottom of the ocean. Baby king crabs make a go of growing up there as well. And those baby crabs, an easy meal for predators, need protectors. They find just such a protector in the unlikely shape of a sea pig. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute reports that in 2011, researchers noticed baby king crabs clinging to quite a few sea pigs.
4. “Sea Pig” is a pretty accurate description. Sea pigs earned their moniker from their puffy legs and plump, oval-shaped pinkish bodies.
5. Sea pigs live in the deepest part of the ocean. Sea pigs are found in the deepest abyssal depths of the world’s oceans, as far as 3.7 miles under the ocean surface.
6. Those aren’t antennae — they’re also feet. Although they look like antennae, the structures on the top of the sea pig’s head are actually feet. These upper papillae are modified tube feet, like the animal’s “walking legs.” They may help propel the sea pig along the ocean, or they may have a sensory function, helping it detect the chemical trail of a tasty meal.
7. They fit in the palm of your hand. Sea pigs tend to be about 4-6 inches long.
8. Sea pigs host several weird parasites. Sea pig parasites include small snails and crustaceans that bore holes in their host’s bodies and feed on them internally.

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