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The Holothurian Fauna of Cook Strait, New Zealand


page 22

Diagnosis: Tubefeet present, tentacles tree-shaped, profusely branched. Retractor muscles usually present. Mesentery of the posterior loop of the intestine in the right or left ventral interradius. Gonads on both sides of the dorsal mesentery. Respiratory trees present. Deposits usually irregular fenestrated plates, sometimes tables.

The Order Dendrochirotida is cosmopolitan, containing predominantly shallow water forms, but a number of species are found in deeper waters, especially in the Arctic region. The numerous species in this order feed selectively on planktonic organisms or detrital material.

There are three families, of which two are represented in Cook Strait. The third family (Psolidae) has two representatives in the New Zealand region, namely Psolus neozelanicus Mortensen which is known from off North Cape, and Pseudopsolus macquariensis (Dendy) recorded from Macquarie Island and Stewart Island.

Key to the Families in Order Dendrochirotida
1 (4) Body cylindrical or fusiform, without a well-defined ventral sole.
2 (3) Tentacles 10 Fam. CUCUMARIIDAE
3 (2) Tentacles 15 to 30 Fam. PHYLLOPHORIDAE
4 (1) Body flattened, with a well-defined ventral sole. Mouth and anus dorsal Fam. PSOLIDAE