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  • Writer's pictureBeth Matlock

See-Through in Water

So, it's been a little while since I've been on here. I've been fortunate to have been working in the jungle in Costa Rica, but I'm back now and ready to show you some wild and wonderful creatures of our oceans!

Since coming to Costa Rica I have been lucky enough to see a host of different species both terrestrial and marine. When I'm not doing marine-based studies, I like to take an interest in herpetology, specifically frogs. One of the highlights of my time there was seeing different species of glass frogs. It's not often you get to see the inner workings of animals with your naked eyes, with the name "glass frogs" meaning you can literally see through them!

This got me this is a marine-based blog, what creatures can you see through in our oceans. Well, one that caught my eye was the 'Pink See-Through Fantasia', scientifically known as Enypniastes eximia. Unexpectedly, this species is actually a sea cucumber. This particular species was discovered only 15 years ago (2007), on an expedition led by WHOI biologist Larry Madin and his group of marine biologists, 2,500 metres down in the Celebes Sea in the western Pacific Ocean. This species is striking with its transparent appearance, showing its intestines, mouth, and anus extremely clearly.

E. eximia is from the genus Enypniastes, this particular genus is monotypic. This means that it only has one immediately subordinate taxon. This is perhaps due to its recent finding and little research conducted into this genus, others may exist but may not have been found or identified yet. These creatures have developed fin-like structures on the front and back of their bodies that enable them to swim up the water column by as much as 1,000m. It is thought that is in fact an evolutionary response to find feeding grounds and avoid predators.

Their appearance is unique in both look and colour. Their colour is dependent on their size which can vary between 11 and 25 centimetres. The smaller the individual the brighter pink they are, larger individuals are more reddish-brown. It's like when you blow up a balloon, the larger the balloon the more transparent it becomes.

The feeding behaviour of this species takes place mainly on benthic sediment, they push food into their mouths with their tentacles. It takes them very little time to feed fully, roughly 60 seconds. The appearance of the intestine is more obvious after feeds.

Little research has been conducted into these creatures with more exploration needed to gain a better understanding of them. I am hopeful that in the near future I will be able to update this post with more information. It is a marine biologist's dream to be able to discover new species such as this, with new technology, allowing us to venture deeper into our oceans who knows what we will find in the future?

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