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Holothuria impatiens (Forskal 1775)

The Impatient Sea Cucumber

Olivia Degn (2011)



Fact Sheet


Comprehensive Description

Physical Description


Identification Resources

Colour and Texture


Local Distribution and Habitats

Biogeographical Distribution

Micro-habitats and Associations


Nocturnal Activity & Micro-Habitat Preference

Life History & Behaviour


Defense Mechanisms

Diet and Feeding

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Evolution & Systematics

Fossil History


Morphology and Physiology

External Morphology

Internal Anatomy




Additional Information


Comprehensive Description

Holothuria impatiens commonly named ‘The Impatient Sea Cucumber’ is an echinoderm within the class Holothuroidea. There are approximately 340 species within 35 genera and three families (Cannon and Silver 1986). This particular species of sea cucumber is part of the order Aspidochirotida. Individuals in this order can be distinguished by their soft flexible bodies and tube feet that have obvious soles (Clark and Rowe 1971). In conjunction with this, members

of the Aspidochirotida order are deposit feeders but perhaps the most defining feature of this order is the ability to expel respiratory organs as a method of defense (Rowe 1969). Holothuria impatiens is part of the family Holothuriidae, which is one of the more diverse of the three families (Clark 1938). Individuals within this family are commonly found in shallow tropical waters, primarily residing in coral reefs at depths of no more than 40m. (Samyn et al. 2005)

H. impatiens itself is a detritovore and is commonly found in areas where organic matter is plentiful. This species is nocturnal and quite cryptic, it remains unseen during the day by tangling its body deep within large coral rubble assemblages. At night it will only extend half of its body out of its shelter to feed, rarely will this species be found in full view. Individuals can reach up to 30cm in length, and are characterized by their bumpy greyish pink surface.

Figure 1:
Holothuria Impatients. Coral reef  flat, Heron Island, QLD