Beneden's sea cucumber

Protankyra benedeni

Family Synaptidae - sea cucumbers

Body elongate, cylindrical, worm-like; body color off-white to light pink; body wall somewhat translucent with transverse lines, longitudinal muscle bands are visible, lighter in color; no tube feet on body (seen under magnification); 12 tentacles on oral end, simple, not divided; in the flesh are "ossicles" or "spicules" in the shape of anchors and anchor plates (see photos); anchors are unbranched with 0 to 11 small teeth on each extension, the feet of the anchors are slightly upturned on the ends and finely serrated; the anchor plates have numerous oval holes, smaller ones near the edges, with 0 to about 6 teeth inside, little extension at one end to hold the anchors; both are similar in size fthroughout body and are about 1/2 millimeter long; also contains "miliary granules" which are minute rods with rounded ends and constricted in the middle.
Similar Species
Sea cucumbers are distinguished by their body shape, the arrangements or lack of their tube feet, the number and shape of their tentacles, the shape of their calcareous ring, and the shape of their ossicles (which can only be seen under magnification). Many are brightly colored. This sea cucumber is unccommon, found in offshore shallow waters (0-65 ft) in sandy and muddy bottoms.
Gulf, sandy and muddy areas, approx. 0-20 m (0-65 ft) in depth
Maximum Size
avg 8-15 cm (3-6 in), can stretch much longer
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names
No official common name for this sea cucumber. The tiny anchors in the flesh cause it to "stick" to objects, like fingers and hands, when touched.