species: Holothuria (Metriatyla) lessoni in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Holothuria (Metriatyla) lessoni

©Anne Hoggett: Holothuria (Metriatyla) lessoni spawning on 5 Jan 2020 in Watson's Bay, Lizard Island. No other individuals of this species were observed in the area. Spawning was underway when first observed at 4:21 pm and continued until at least 4:47 pm when observation ceased.

©Steven Purcell: Three colour forms of Holothuria (Metriatyla) lessoni in New Caledonia. Genetic analysis (Uthicke et al, 2005) has shown that these forms are all the same species. Click on image for URL of licence conditions.

©Anne Hoggett: Holothuria (Metriatyla) lessoni spawning on 5 Jan 2020 in Watson's Bay, Lizard Island.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Holothuroidea
Order Aspidochirotida
Family Holothuriidae
Genus Holothuria
Species Holothuria (Metriatyla) lessoni



Distinguishing features

A large holothurian with long black papillae. Colour is highly variable across its wide Indo-Pacific distribution (Purcell et al, 2012) but at Lizard Island, the few observed specimens are mainly white with some dark blotches.


  • Up to 46 cm and averaging 30 cm (Length according to Purcell et al, 2012)

Depth range

  • Up to 20 m (according to Purcell et al, 2012)



Grant Leeworthy (Tasmanian Seafoods) confirmed in August 2014 that he has recorded this species from the Lizard Island area. Tasmanian Seafoods was the source of specimens for Bahrami et al (2014). 

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Rarely observed, probably because it buries during the day. May favour an inter-reef, soft-bottom habitat.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Purcell, S.W., Y. Samyn and C. Conand (2012). Commercially important sea cucumbers of the world 150 pp., 30 pl. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Other references

  • Bahrami, Y., W. Zhang, T. Chataway and C. Franco (2014). Structure elucidation of five novel isomeric saponins from the viscera of the sea cucumber Holothuria lessoni, Marine Drugs, 12: 4439-4473. LIRS catalog number 10070.
  • Massin, C., S. Uthicke, S.W. Purcell, F.W.E. Rowe and Y. Samyn (2009). Taxonomy of the heavily exploited Indo-Pacific sandfish complex (Echinodermata: Holothuriidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 155: 40-59. LIRS catalog number 90264.
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