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Sea Cucumbers

Holothurians are a conspicuous element of the shallow water benthos of tropical waters. They attract the attention of visitors to coral reefs and, increasingly, are becoming subjects of scientific inquiry. Commonly referred to as sea cucumbers, bêche-de-mer, trepang, or sea slugs, holothurians are grouped as one class (Cl. Holothurioidea) in the phylum Echinodermata. They share with other echinoderms (sea stars, brittle stars, sea urchins, and crinoids or sea lilies) a pentaradial body plan and a water vascular system. Echinoderms are restricted to the sea (and with few exceptions are unable to tolerate brackish water), but are common at all latitudes and all depths of the ocean.