“Unusual Sea Animals,” Friend, Aug. 1992, 48
You’ll never find a sea peach in a fruit basket, or a sea cucumber in a salad. A sea peach is not a fruit, and a sea cucumber is not a vegetable. They, along with starfish, sea urchins, and sea anemones, are just some of the unusual sea animals Heavenly Father created for us.
Because of its body shape and color, the sea anemone looks like a flower called the anemone. This creature of the sea can be blue, green, pink, red, or a mixture of colors, and it is found worldwide from sea tide pools to the ocean’s great depths.
The sea anemone normally moves by gliding on its base, or foot. This foot helps the animal attach itself to solid surfaces, where it waits and catches its dinner. Food is caught by stinging tentacles, filled with poison, that surround the anemone’s mouth. The double-walled capsules at the end of each tentacle are also filled with a coiled, hollow thread, which is sometimes barbed at the base. When the end of the tentacle is touched, the coiled thread shoots out until its fine point pierces the victim. Then the poison flows down the hollow thread, paralyzing its smaller victims.
A starfish looks like a star because of its arms (usually five) coming out from a central disk. Although the name can be confusing, the starfish is not actually a fish; it is a marine animal. Unlike the sea cucumber, the starfish uses its tube feet to move around. The starfish crawls along rocks on its tube feet, which are on the bottoms of its arms. Another interesting thing about the starfish is that it can grow new body parts. If an arm breaks or is cut off, a new one will grow back. Even if a starfish is cut in half, each half will grow into a whole one. It also has an interesting way of eating its dinner. Its mouth, which is on the bottom of its central disk, leads directly to its bag-like stomach. When a starfish spies its favorite dish, the oyster, it pulls the oyster’s shell apart. Then the starfish pushes its stomach out through its mouth and into the oyster and slowly digests it.
The sea peach is a kind of sea squirt. This leathery, bottle-shaped creature squirts water out of one of its two openings. Through one of these openings, the sea squirt draws in food; then it squirts the excess water out the other opening. Like the sea anemone, the sea squirt lives attached to rocks. Before it becomes an adult, the sea squirt goes through a larval stage in which it looks like a tadpole. It can even swim! Eventually the tadpolelike form loses its shape and settles on a rock to become an adult.
The colorful sea urchin is strange but beautiful. It’s shaped like a ball covered with long, movable spines. These spines grow from a limestone shell just under the skin. The sharp spines, which break off easily, help protect the sea urchin. If it gets stepped on or eaten, the spines break off, causing painful wounds.
The sea urchin also has tube feet with suckers, which help push it along the sea bottom or burrow in the sand. Some sea urchins walk on their spines as if they were walking on stilts. Because it feeds on dead plants and small animals that are found on the ocean floor, the sea urchin is called a scavenger. Like the starfish, its mouth is on its underside, but it has five sharp teeth in the center.
This creature has a cylindrical shape like a cucumber but with ten tentacles at one end. The tentacles surround its mouth and help draw food into it. The sea cucumber can’t walk, but it does have feet, called tube feet. Five double rows of tube feet grow along the sides of its long body. Some sea cucumbers use these tube feet to crawl. Because of its awkward shape, the sea cucumber has a unique way of protecting itself. When threatened, the sea cucumber can spew out its threadlike insides at an enemy. This is called evisceration. Then the sea cucumber simply grows more.
So the next time you visit the beach, remember the sea peach, sea cucumber, starfish, sea urchin, and sea anemone. They are just some of Heavenly Father’s unusual sea animals.