Sea Cucumber | 20 Sep 2021

Why in News

Recently, 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.

Key Points

  • About:
    • 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.
  • Threats:
    • Illegal Trading and smuggling since the species is high in demand across south-east Asia, mainly China, for food and traditional medicine.
  • Protection:
  • Conservation Efforts:

Source: PIB