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This sea creature breathes through its butt - Cella Wright

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Is it a fuzzy sock? An overripe banana? A moldy tube of toothpaste? No! In fact, it’s a humble sea cucumber: a brainless, fleshy form surrounding a digestive tract, and bookended by a mouth and an anus. And while it might look odd, its daily toil paves the way for entire ecosystems to thrive. Cella Wright journeys to the bottom of the ocean to explore the lives of these sausage-shaped wonders.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Cella Wright
  • Director Flávia Godoy, Augusto Bicalho Roque, Lívia Serri Francoio
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Augusto Bicalho Roque
  • Animator Flávia Godoy
  • Art Director Lívia Serri Francoio
  • Music Jarrett Farkas
  • Sound Designer Jarrett Farkas
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma, Julia Dickerson
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
What’s the purpose of an animal as sludge-like as the sea cucumber? You might be surprised: these echinoderms are capable of incredible bodily feats and make extraordinary contributions to their marine environments. From evisceration to anal teeth, Cella Wright explores the wonderful and weird world of sea cucumbers.

To learn more about sea cucumber biology, poop, and ecological value, you can visit this National Geographic page, which includes a video of a sea cucumber excreting its sandy waste.

Sea cucumbers are able to quickly regenerate their tissues after evisceration. This has fascinated scientists for some time. You can read more here to learn about what genes may be responsible for this feat.

Sea cucumbers also have great cultural importance, especially in the culinary realm. In China alone, sea cucumbers have been eaten for some 1,800 years. Back in the 1600s, politician and poet Wu Weiye wrote that, although no one was certain whether they were worms, or fish, or even plants, sea cucumbers could be eaten to promote health. (Indeed, they’re a nutritious protein – you can read more about that here.)

Today, Chinese sea cucumber divers risk their lives in order to meet a seemingly insatiable market demand. Over-exploitation of sea cucumbers has become a huge problem across the globe. You can read more here to learn about how sea cukes are harvested in the wild, the role of aquaculture, and the conservation efforts being made.


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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Cella Wright
  • Director Flávia Godoy, Augusto Bicalho Roque, Lívia Serri Francoio
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Augusto Bicalho Roque
  • Animator Flávia Godoy
  • Art Director Lívia Serri Francoio
  • Music Jarrett Farkas
  • Sound Designer Jarrett Farkas
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma, Julia Dickerson
  • See more