From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Sea cucumber
Mains level : Illicit trade of exotic species
In a swift operation, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) at Mandapam, Tamil Nadu seized two tonnes of sea cucumber, a banned marine species.
- Sea cucumbers are part of a larger animal group called echinoderms, which also contains starfish and sea urchins.
- Their body shape is similar to a cucumber, but they have small tentacle-like tube feet that are used for locomotion and feeding.
- One way that sea cucumbers can confuse or harm predators is by propelling their own toxic internal organs from their bodies in the direction of an attacker.
- The organs grow back, and it may save them from being eaten.
- They are found in virtually all marine environments throughout the world, from shallow to deep-sea environments.
- They are benthic, meaning they live on the ocean floor. However, their larvae are planktonic, meaning they float in the ocean with the currents.
- Sea cucumber in India is treated as an endangered species listed under schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- It is primarily smuggled from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka in fishing vessels from Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin districts.
(IUCN status is not available for this species)