The expendable skin of swimming sea cucumbers produces bioluminescence after mechanical stimulation using granular bodies.

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“Enypniastes eximia (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) is a
prominent member of the benthic boundary layer community in deep
Caribbean waters. Like most holothurians it feeds on benthic sediments.
Feeding is episodic and after collecting food on the bottom it returns
to the water column at altitudes within about 50 m of the sea floor.
Direct observations from submersibles and laboratory studies of living
specimens have shown how bioluminescence is produced. Light production
in E. eximia is triggered mechanically, and is produced by
hundreds of granular bodies within the gelatinous integument of the
animal. Local stimulation yields a localized response which gradually
spreads to the entire surface of the animal. Broad impact yields a
whole-body luminescent response. The integument of E. eximia is
quite fragile, and strong physical contact readily causes the skin to
be sloughed off in a glowing cloud. The degree of luminous response is a
function of the severity of contact. In the laboratory the skin of E.
, along with its luminescent capability, regenerated
rapidly. The anti-predatory role of bioluminescence in this species is
apparently a ‘burglar alarm’ strategy. In the dark, near-bottom habitat,
physical contact by a predator elicits light production which reveals
the presence of the attacker to its own visually-cued predators.” (Robison 1992:463)

Journal article
Bioluminescence in the benthopelagic holothurian Enypniastes eximiaJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United KingdomMay 12, 2009
Bruce H. Robison

Web page
Shining Examples: 10 Bioluminescent Creatures that Glow in Surprising Ways Slide Show

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Living System/s


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