Sea cucumbers are essential to a healthy reef Ė theyíre like the vacuum cleaners of the reef. For the first time last year, Belize allowed harvesting of sea cucumbers.
As of late 2010 they were going to Mexico. I would guess that some are still going to Mexico, but donít know if thatís the primary destination anymore.
Did you know that the gonads of male sea cucumbers sometimes sell for US$1,000 an ounce? You have to actually bid on them to buy them.
Fortunately or unfortunately, our sea cucumbers donít have the gonads preferred by those who want or need sea cucumber gonads.
The sea cucumber belongs to the group echinoderms? Echinoderms are a group of invertebrates that include other members such as starfish and sea urchins. Sea Cucumbers get their name because of their unusual body shape that resembles a cucumber. They live near or on the ocean floor sometimes partially buried beneath it. When threatened they can discharge sticky threads to entangle their enemies. Others can mutilate their own bodies as a defense mechanism. They violently contract their muscles and discard some of their internal organs out of their anus. The missing body parts are quickly regenerated. Regeneration is an awesome capability displayed by members of the echinoderms.
Analysis of the sea cucumber fishery in Belize
An analysis of the sea cucumber fishery in Belize was conducted from observations and surveys.
While sea cucumbers have been fished in Belizean waters for
20 years for trade through Guatemala and the local Asian market in Belize, harvesting for export to international markets only started with the establishment of the sea cucumber fishery regulations in 2009. The fishery included two main species, Holothuria mexicana and Isostichopus badionotus but only the former was legally managed by the Belize Fisheries Department through a closed season and catch reporting. By 2016, H. mexicana was considered overfished and in 2017, the entire fishery was closed.
Photograph by Daniel Hershman
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