species: Pearsonothuria graeffei in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Pearsonothuria graeffei

©Lyle Vail: Pearsonothuria graeffei at Horseshoe Reef, Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Characteristic string-of-beads fecal string of Pearsonothuria graeffei

©Lyle Vail: Pearsonothuria graeffei spawning at 5.18 pm on 21 Feb 2016 at Lizard Island
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Holothuroidea
Order Aspidochirotida
Family Holothuriidae
Genus Pearsonothuria
Species Pearsonothuria graeffei



Distinguishing features

Pearsonothuria graeffei is a medium-sized holothurian with a distinctive brown and cream blotchy colour pattern. The body wall is soft and pliable. It is active by day, often seen feeding with its large, flat-tipped tentacles. Frequently observed spawning in the late afternoon between November and February.


  • Size data has not been obtained.

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



Juveniles mimic the nudibranch Phyllidia varicosa - pale blue with black stripes and yellow tubercles. The similarity in pattern remains until the sea cucumber exceeds four inches in length (the maximum size of the nudibranch). Then the cucumber changes to adult coloration (according to nudibranch behaviour book by David W Behrens). Comment by Barbara Banks.

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

This species is common within the Lizard Island Group in reef habitats.


Pearsonothuria graeffei is occasionally observed spawning during the late afternoon in summer at Lizard Island (see Records for observations). The animal stands erect and spawn is released from a gonopore on the head.

Web resources


  • Cannon, L.R.G. and H. Silver (1986). Sea Cucumbers of Northern Australia Queensland Museum, Brisbane. LIRS catalog number 229.
  • Rowe, F.W.E. and J. Gates (1995). Echinodermata in: Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 33, xiii, 510 pp. Wells, A. (Ed.). CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Uthicke, M. Byrne and C. Conand, S. (2010). Genetic barcoding of commercial beche-de-mer species (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea), Molecular Ecology Resources, 10: 634-646. LIRS catalog number 1321.