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Cucumaria piperata is similar in body form to Cucumaria miniata, but smaller (up to 12 cm long). It is creamy white, or slightly yellowish, with a variable number of black or dark brown spots. The spots may cover the body, but are concentrated at the anterior end and on the 10 equal-sized tentacles. The body has five double rows of retractile tube feet, and the skin is smooth.
Skin ossicles: tapered perforated plates with spiny margins.
Cucumaria piperata may be confused with Pseudocnus lubricus. One form of P. lubricus is yellowish white, with fine peppery spots on the dorsal side, and is shorter than 5 cm. Formerly, the speckled form of P. lubricus was identified as Cucumaria fisheri astigmata or Pseudocnus astigmatus; but these names are synonymous with Pseudocnus lubricus - formerly Cucumaria lubrica (Arndt et al. 1996).
piperata = peppered
Cucumaria piperata is a suspension feeder. The tentacles are less robust than Cucumaria miniata and held closer to the substratum. Because of this feeding position and the mottled colour, C. piperata is more cryptic.
Spawning is similar to C. miniata and occurs from mid March until late April. The olive green eggs (mean diameter 532 μm) are packed into pellets which float when first released. The non-feeding larva is difficult to distinguish from that of C. miniata. Juveniles settle under rocks with adults of C. piperata and C. miniata in July.
No parasitic gastropods are reported in C. piperata. The body wall of C. piperata is toxic to the gunnels, Pholis and Apodichthys.
Cucumaria piperata is common in cobble fields, but less abundant than Cucumaria miniata. This species is found in a variety of habitats - firm mud, shell-gravel or hard surfaces that are exposed to current. It is usually buried or under rocks, but can also be found lying on the surface.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab
for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2023-09-24 10:40:27 AM]
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