How can sea cucumbers help save coral reefs?
Learning stageStage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6
Learning areaClimate change, Science
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Sea cucumbers are marine invertebrate’s consisting of 1500 different species worldwide, of which 200 live in Australia. They belong to a group of aquatic animals called filter feeders, meaning they pass sand through their bodies in order to filter out little organisms hiding in it.
In this process of 'filtering', sea cucumbers also crush sand and shells which leads to a positive by-effect for the ecosystem. Watch Eliza and Claire’s video to learn the unknown superpowers of sea cucumbers!
- Sea cucumbers belong to the echinoderm family, together with the starfish and sea urchins.
- Marine invertebrates’ hard body parts are built up out of calcium carbonate. These body parts range from shells to complete coral reefs!
- 10 of the 16 globally endangered sea cucumbers live in Australian waters. They are under threat mainly due to their high culinary value in some cultures.
- What will sea cucumbers do if they feel threatened?
- Sea cucumbers help to break down calcium carbonate into calcium ions and carbonate ions. What can other marine life use these ions for?
- As oceans grow more acidic what mineral is removed from the environment? How can this affect sea life?
- Some species of sea cucumber are becoming endangered. What would happen to reefs if the sea cucumbers went extinct?
About the video
Making A Splash, discusses the key role that sea cucumbers have in saving our coral reefs. Eliza and Claire explain how sea cucumbers help to counteract the harmful impacts of climate change, rebuild reefs, and increase nutrient recycling. Ocean acidification is a major concern as global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise and for coral reefs to maintain a stable mass, the rate of calcium carbonate accumulation must equal the rate of calcium carbonate loss.
Sponsored by the University of Sydney, the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize is a national short film competition that encourages school students to communicate a scientific concept in a way that is accessible and entertaining to the public while painlessly increasing their science knowledge. It is intended to support budding young scientists across the nation, who will be our future leaders in research, discovery and communication. You can learn more about the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize here.