For our series of articles about the Maldivian fishes, today we will be covering a very special specimen: the Pyrosoma or Sea Cucumber.
The Pyrosoma is part of the family of the Tunicates, marine animals without vertebral column, which can reach considerable lengths of 10 metres and more and drift in the Oceans and Seas simply driven by sea currents. Usually they live and move in the highest levels of the Oceans, close to the surface, but some have also been sighted at abyssal depths. Pyrosoma is made up of hundreds of thousands of organisms called Zoids, little more than a pinhead, piled up and held together by a kind of gelatinous mass that creates the colony. The Zoids continuously open and close their microscopic mouths not only to feed on the microalgae present in the sea water, but also to make a further movement of the colony through the vortex of their siphons.
Pyrosoma is bioluminescent, it means it naturally generates low-intensity light at a biochemical level, which can be perceived mainly at night with a new or completely absent moon. The tones of the light emitted vary from blue to fluorescent green, and to see Pyrosoma at night in the open sea is a striking and extremely fascinating sight.
At the NAKAI Maayafushi Resort we were extremely lucky to have received the visit of a Pyrosoma, for a very rare and special encounter. Marco Carè, diver and photographer of the NAKAI group, tells us about the discovery of the sea cucumber specimen in the waters of our Resort:
“It had just dawned, when the security guard in charge of the Resort came knocking at the door of my room. He quicly informs me that a strange, long, bioluminescent sea creature got stuck under the pylons of the main pier of Maayafushi. Together with Robin (the marine biologist of the NAKAI group) we reach the place of the sighting and with immense amazement we find ourselves in front of our eyes a sort of “tubon” about three metres long: a large gelatinous mass studded with a myriad of purple dots and, thanks to the low light of dawn, we can still admire in its full splendour the multitude of fluorescent colours irradiated by this extraordinary marine being. At the beginning we mistake the being for a mass of giant cuttlefish eggs, but then we realise that it is instead a well-defined and globally recognised organism with the name of Pyrosoma, also commonly called Sea Cucumber”.
Marco, of course, did not miss the opportunity to photograph such a rare specimen of fish and we leave you a gallery of the shots with which he immortalized the Pyrosoma he met near our Resort in NAKAI Maayafushi.