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Sea Cucumbers in Texas?


Sea cucumber researcher and ERI Marine Research Fellow, Dr. Arlenie Rogers presented the second part of her sea cucumber research entitled “Abundance and Distribution of Harvested Sea Cucumbers” at the 66th Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Initiative Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas held on November 4-8, 2013.

At this yearly conference, fishers, researchers, students, Non-governmental organizations and Government Departments meet to exchange information and gather valuable information from the workshops and sessions. The conference was hosted by the Harte Research Institute under the theme, "Natural and Artificial Reef Fisheries, Research, and Conservation" which covered the following topics: Role of natural and artificial reefs in fisheries management; Biological connectivity between natural and artificial reefs; New methodologies for assessing natural and artificial reef populations; Socio-economic, policy, and sustainability issues related to natural and artificial reef fisheries.

Dr. Rogers’ study fits perfectly with the main objectives of:

  • Providing a quantitative density estimate for Donkey Dong sea cucumber (Holothuria Mexicana) and Three-rowed sea cucumber (Isostichopus badionotus );

  • Examining distribution within the surveyed areas;

  • Obtaining an estimate of population size;

  • Providing length data (incl. frequency distributions) and length weight relationships for Donkey Dong, the only commercially harvested species in Belize;

  • Identifying species found in Belizean waters.

Through collaboration with the Belize Fisheries Department, the Belize Audubon Society and the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, the ERI staff and student volunteers, in fulfillment of the objectives, conducted a biological survey in June 2012. The study was completed under the guidance of ERI’s Science Director, Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts. Results indicate that very few species exist in the areas studied and that commercially exploited species are not abundant. The most abundant species was H. mexicana in Southern Belize.

The presentation and study were well received at the conference and has gathered interest from other institutions and Government representatives from countries where sea cucumber fishing is in its early years. Research findings will be published in the Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute.

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