30 Jan '12, 5am

Sea Cucumber Poo May be Key to Saving Coral Reefs

Sea Cucumber Poo May be Key to Saving Coral Reefs

With a name and shape more befitting of a salad-topping fruit than an ocean-faring animal, sea cucumbers are arguably one of the most striking species to roam the sea floor -- but their importance to the health of marine ecosystems is proving far more noteworthy than that unfortunate misnomer. According to researchers from the University of Sydney's One Tree Island station, tropical sea cucumber excrement could hold the key to saving the world's great coral reefs from the devastating effects of ocean acidification. Sea cucumbers typically eat by scavenging the ocean floor for plankton or bits of other organic debris, and in so doing, they wind up swallowing and digesting a fair amount of sand. But, as it turns out, this process facilities a natural process that may be essential for preserving the health of coral by counteracting the pH level drops associated with ocean aci...

Full article: http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/sea-cucumber...

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