Brown sea cucumber (Aslia lefevrei)

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



Aslia lefevrei is a sausage-shaped sea cucumber that can grow up to 15 cm in length. The largest on record was 18 cm long. It varies in colour from brown to white but it darkens to black or grey when exposed to light. It has 10 mottled black or grey tentacles around the mouth. It is these tentacles that can be seen protruding from crevices. Their tentacles can account for up to 10 cm of their body length. It has five distinct rows of tube feet and the area at the base of the tentacles (introvert) is dark brown. It has a layer of small basket like spicules just below the surface of the skin. Dense groups have been recorded at more than 70 per sq. metre.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found in the Shetland Islands, Berwick-upon-Tweed, the south-east in Worthing, west Sussex but predominently on the west coasts of England, Ireland and Scotland.

Global distribution

West coasts of the the British Isles and the Atlantic coast of France.


Can be found under stones and in rock crevices, in areas of moderate water movement and clean water conditions. Their habitat extends from the lower shore into the sublittoral to 50 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Leathery cylindrical body (tough skin).
  • Eight of their tentacles are long with two smaller ones.
  • Five rows of tube feet.
  • Spicules are knobbly with four holes.
  • Varies in colour from brown to white, however it darkens to black or grey when exposed to light.

Additional information

Aslia lefevrei is often found with the sea cucumber Pawsonia saxicola with which it is often confused. However Pawsonia saxicola has a white smooth-skinned body, flattened spicules and a different arrangement of tube feet. The tube feet of Pawsonia saxicola are arranged in double longitudinal rows ventrally and smaller dorsal rows in a zigzag series.

Listed by

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

  3. 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.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

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

  6. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

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


  1. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  2. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Invertebrate Records 1853- 2011. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

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

  4. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-20


This review can be cited as:

Sabatini, M. 2008. Aslia lefevrei Brown sea cucumber. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 20-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 02/09/2008