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Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumber:

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has seized two tonnes of sea cucumber, a banned marine species, in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay areas in Tamil Nadu.

  • Sea cucumbers are marine invertebrates that live on the seafloor found generally in tropical regions. They’re named for their unusual oblong shape that resembles a fat cucumber.
  • There are about 1,250 species of sea cucumber, all of which belong to the taxonomic class Holothuroidea.
  • This class falls under the Echinodermata phylum, which also includes many other well-known marine invertebrates, such as sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars.
  • They are crucial to maintain the balance of ocean habitats.

Significance:

  • They are an integral part of the coral ecosystem as one of the main by-products of the sea cucumbers digestion of sand is calcium carbonate and this is essential for the survival of the coral reefs.
  • They act like garbage collectors of the ocean world, and they recycle nutrients, thus playing an important role in keeping coral reefs in good condition.
  • Illegal Trading and smuggling since the species is high in demand across south-east Asia, mainly China, for food and traditional medicine.
  • Protection:
    • IUCN Red List: Brown Sea Cucumber (Endangered), Blackspotted Sea Cucumber (Least Concern), Blue Sea Cucumber (Data Deficient), etc.
      Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • In 2020, the Lakshadweep Islands administration created the world’s first conservation area – 239 sq. km – for sea cucumbers.

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