by Kevin Zelnio
#20 Enypniastes eximia (Phylum: Echinodermata, Class: Holothuroidea, Order: Elasipodida, Family: Pelagothuridae)
Craig likens this semi-transparent sack of echinodermaliscious jelly to a floating frozen chicken. I prefer to think of it as the deep-sea ballerina (see video below). Either way this sea cucumber is truly weird, even for being an Echinoderm. You see, most sea cucumber are good and obey the laws of holothurian normalcy. That is, they are cucumberiform and crawl around the ocean floor. No weird skirts. No swimming gracefully out into the open ocean. This unique swimming behavior is an escape response for Enypniastes eximia. When threatened it gets the heck outta there!
Described in 1882 from the Challenger Expedition dredges, they are quite cosmopolitan on the seafloor. The ones in the pictures above are from the Indian Ocean, while the video shows one from the Gulf of Mexico. I have seen them on cruises to the eastern and southwestern Pacific as well. Yet they still retain all the classical holothurian characteristics. Such fine traits like puking out their guts when scared, breathing from there butts, calcareous spicules in the skin, and being just plain odd.