You may have eaten them at a restaurant, pet them at an aquarium, or (in my case) harassed them until they eviscerated their guts while SCUBA diving. But did you know that sea cucumbers could increase sustainability of aquaculture farms by reducing fish waste, provide a source of income for impoverished countries, and solve world hunger?
Well, I may have made the last point up, but the ocean-saving potential of this marine slug has been highlighted in an article at Science Daily. Wanna know what makes it all even better? Many species of sea cucumber are threatened or endangered, and by purposely establishing populations to save the world, scientists and fishermen will be simultaneously saving these species. Everyone wins!
I always appreciate articles like this. As a marine biologist, I know of all the strange, gross, and tasty creatures in the ocean that have amazing potential for helping the environment and human wellbeing, but I am also painfully aware of how little the general public knows about this stuff. Articles such as this one begin to remedy this situation by introducing an unknown creature, telling the reader why it is cool, and how it can affect their lives and the things they care about. Do humans want to stop eating fish? No. Do we want the earth to fall apart into little pieces of chaos? No way. So we have to start finding solutions to problems we have created. Who would have thought a sea slug could do this for us? By making people aware of all these things, as the Science Daily article does, it increases public appreciation for silly little invertebrates, and our diverse world as a whole.