information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A sea cucumber (Parastichopus tremulus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



Parastichops tremulus, like all sea cucumbers, has a cylindrical and very slightly flattened body with a tentacular mouth at one end and the anus at the other end. It can reach up to 50 cm in length and 10 cm in diameter. The tentacles are aranged in the shape of a mop are are usually around twenty in number. The underside has three rows of tube feet and is pale pink to white in colour. Large papillae are scattered on the upper side, which is bright red in colour with black spots. The skin is smooth and firm.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Usually found off the Hebrides but may also occur around the Shetland Isles, in the northern North Sea and off western Ireland and Scotland.

Global distribution



Parastichopus tremulus is a mobile benthic species usually found on rocks and silty cliffs, in sea lochs and sheltered harbours from depths over 20 m to more than 100 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Up to 50 cm in length.
  • Bright red with black spots above; pale pink to white underneath.
  • Cylindrical body with large scattered papillae.
  • Three indistinct bands of tube feet.
  • Mop-shaped mouth tentacles.
  • Skin spicules are tables with stars and rods.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. Mortensen, T.H., 1927. Handbook of the echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

  4. Picton, B.E., 1993. A field guide to the shallow-water echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Immel Publishing Ltd.

  5. Southward, E.C. & Campbell, A.C., 2006. Echinoderms. The Linnean Society of London. Avon: The Bath Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 56.]


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System),  2021. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2021-05-06


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Parastichopus tremulus A sea cucumber. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 06-05-2021]. Available from:

Last Updated: 22/05/2008