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

Cucumaria vegae Théel, 1886
Northern Tar Spot
Family: Cucumariidae
Photo of species

© Royal BC Museum  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #2165)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Cucumaria vegae 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.

Externally, Cucumaria vegae is identical to Cucumaria pseudocurata, but often a bit larger. The difference between them can only be determined by examining their skin ossicles. Even then, specimens from southeastern Alaska have ossicles that are intermediate between those from the Aleutian Islands and southern British Columbia. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA has shown that specimens occurring from the Queen Charlotte Islands to the Aleutians form a group that is about 2% different from the southern population we call Cucumaria pseudocurata, that lives from Vancouver Island south to California. For the time being, I will retain the existing names and propose that the name Cucumaria vegae be used for all specimens of this description found north of Queen Charlotte Sound.

Skin ossicles: vary from simple rods with a few holes, to rods that are expanded at the ends.

Similar Species

As explained above, Cucumaria pseudocurata and C. vegae are similar and may not be a separate species. Pseudocnus curatus differs in the arrangement of its tube feet and the equal size of its tentacles.



vegae = possibly from Latin, vagus, meaning wandering

Very little has been published about Cucumaria vegae. So far all we know is that it broods its young in late winter.


Cucumaria vegae inhabits rocky intertidal areas among the California Mussel (Mytilus californianus) when that species is present: otherwise, it forms aggregations on rock surfaces in the lower intertidal. Near Juneau, Alaska, this species occurs in dense mats in the lower intertidal along with the White Sea Cucumber, Eupentacta pseudoquinquesemita.

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.

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: 2024-07-21 2:39:26 AM]
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