An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Cucumber_graham_edgar Black Sea Cucumber underwater by Graham Edgar
  2. Cucumber2_steve_smith Up to 50cm by Steve Smith

Black Sea Cucumber

Holothuria leucospilota


  • Long tubular animal uniform all over
  • Skin uneven and bumpy (tube feet)
  • Dark brown, maroon to black in colour
  • Mouth is surrounded by tentacles that are used for feeding.
  • Size:  up to 50cm






What to Observe

Search area for 30 minutes and record under the following categories:

  • Abundant - found easily with little searching
  • Frequent - found with minimal searching
  • Rare -  only 1 or 2 individuals found with intensive searching
  • Not found - not present during search





ClimateWatch Science Advisor

As a result of climate change, warm tropical ocean currents are expected to strengthen and persist for longer periods in southern coastal area normally dominated by cooler waters. The consequent increases in water temperature are likely to result in unfavourable growing conditions for sea cucumbers. Their numbers are also at risk due to poaching in some areas for their ‘medicinal’ properties. 

When To Look

Throughout the year.

Where To Look

  • Tropical waters up to 3 meters deep. Commonly found partially covered under coral or rocks usually at low tide.
  • Found in the Pacific Ocean and the tropical water of Indo-West Pacific.
  • Shark Bay WA, NT, QLD and Northern NSW.


Gerald, A.R. and R. Steene. 1994. Indo-Pacific Coral Reef field Guide. Tropical Reed Research

Mather, P. and I. Bennett. 1984. A Coral Reef Handbook A Guide to the Fauna, Flora and Geology Cay. The Australian Coral Reef Society.

Davie, P. 1998. Wild Guide to Moreton Bay. The Queensland Museum


  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Sea cucumbers are prized in some cultures for their ‘medicinal’ purposes.

    If they become agitated or threatened they can eject sticky white threads called ‘cuvierian tubules’. This is a defence mechanism used to entangle any predators.

    This species is known as the ‘recycler’ because it feeds on and removes the waste of other animals whilst churning up the sand which helps prevent the sea floor from hardening.

  1. Did You Know?

    Elephant snails (Scutus antipodes) can resemble black sea cucumbers, however, elephant snails can be distinguished by their small creamy white shell on their backs and stout appearance.