E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Cucumaria piperata (Stimpson, 1864)
Peppered Sea Cucumber
Family: Cucumariidae
Photo of species

© Derek Holzapfel  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #14724)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Cucumaria piperata in British Columbia
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Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this taxon. If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., two subspecies may be illustrated) then links to the separate images will be provided below.

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.

Similar Species

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.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cucumaria piperata H. L. Clark (1901a)
Pentacta piperatus Stimpson

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

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: 2024-07-18 4:56:56 PM]
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