DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Sea cucumber ossicles (Eupentacta quinquesemita; Pacific Northwest). Sea cucumbers are echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea that live on the sea floor around the world. They possess a leathery skin and soft cylindrical body. Similar to all echinoderms, sea cucumbers have an endoskeleton just below the skin that contains calcified (calcium carbonate) structures called ossicles (sclerites) which are joined by connective tissue. Many wild sea cucumber species are gathered for human consumption and some species are cultivated in aquaculture systems. Sea cucumbers are important in the marine ecosystem since they help to recycle nutrients by breaking down detritus and other organic matter. Magnification x100 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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