About the Class
Presentation Description: Apostichopus californicus (California Sea Cucumber) is a commonly-seen subtidal echinoderm on the west coast of North America with a little-understood seasonal cycle. In the late fall animals stop moving and experience a complete degradation of their internal organs; they become little more than apparent dead bags of skin. Several weeks later, with few external signs of life, the internal organs regenerate and the animals regain their activity. These resilient animals can repeat this cycle every year for the 30+ years they live. In addition, sea cucumbers can “auto-eviscerate”, spitting out some internal organs as an anti-predator defense mechanism, followed by regrowth of the lost organs. This presentation will describe the current ecological, physiological, and molecular research Jim Nestler and his students are conducting on these seemingly “simple” sea cucumbers in the Salish Sea.
Research/Interests: Professor Nestler’s research primarily focuses on the study of sea cucumbers. He is specifically interested in answering the following questions through research:
- “Are sea cucumbers really important? Do they provide any particular function(s) in the marine environment? Who cares if they all get eaten and disappear?”
- “Why do some sea cucumbers lose all of their internal organs in the winter, only to regrow them a month or two later?”