The weather is somewhat erratic right now – February 14th brought temperatures exceeding 20℃ at around 3:00 PM; February 15th was around 15 degrees lower at 3:00 PM. Mume trees are in blossom, hydrangeas are beginning to bud, and the worst of the cold is behind us – I hope.
I stumbled across this article while trying to find any English language press coverage of a sea cucumber that apparently has a sushi-like pattern.
I normally associate Wakayama with the infamous Tajima dolphin hunt, but here is a more encouraging story, courtesy of the Asahi Shimbun.
New species of sea cucumber squirms into the spotlight
SUSAMI, Wakayama Prefecture–It might look like a discarded overripe banana, but an unassuming creature found on a beach here has been heralded by scientists as a new species of sea cucumber.
The species inhabits shallow waters and probably escaped detection for so long because it remains buried in the sand during the day.
It belongs to the thyone genus, a type of sea cucumber that uses its 10 tentacles to gather food, and has been named “thyone susamiensis” after its place of discovery, the town of Susami.
“I hope visitors realize the richness of Wakayama’s nature and biodiversity,” said Yusuke Yamana, a curator of the Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History in the city of Kainan, near Osaka. “It may look like a common sea cucumber, but it is a rare and newly-found species.”
The marine creature was discovered and examined by three researchers, including Yamana, working at the prefectural museum and the Susami Crustacean Aquarium in Susami.
Yamana and his team compared “thyone susamiensis” with over 60 known species in the thyone genus. A paper printed in Species Diversity, an academic journal published in English by the Japanese Society of Systematic Zoology, last November concluded that it was indeed a new species.
Some of the sea cucumbers, measuring between 5 and 10 centimeters, went on display at the Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History and the Susami Crustacean Aquarium from Jan. 20.