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#WeirdAnimalWednesday: Meet the Sea Pig

posted: 09/30/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Scotoplane aka sea pig
MBARI via Creative Commons

Before you ask: no, you can't turn the sea pig into bacon.

The nickname 'sea pig' actually refers to the Scotoplane, an entire genus of deep-sea marine creatures. Scotoplanes' porky appearance and distinctive pink color earned the nickname 'sea pig', although the creatures aren't at all related to our land-dwelling porcine friends. Rather, the sea pig is actually a type of sea cucumber -- in fact, it is the only known example of legged locomotion observed in the sea cucumber family.

Growing less than half a foot long, the tiny creatures live at the bottom of nearly all of the world's oceans, where they have been known to congregate by the hundreds. As Wired reports, large groups of sea pigs gravitate to abundant food sources (a whale carcass, for example) for a giant communal feast.

On the ocean floor, sea pigs play an important ecological role. In the absence of a large animal carcass to chow down on, the creatures extract organic particles from seafloor mud, leaving behind oxygen that nourishes their deep-sea neighbors.

Check out the sea pig in action:

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