600 kgs of smuggled sea cucumber worth $4 million seized in India’s southern Tamil Nadu coast 

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
Chennai, Tamil Nadu Published: Oct 20, 2021, 01:56 PM(IST)

The Coast Guard teams recovered 31gunny bags of sea cucumber weighing 600kgs Photograph:( WION )

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Sea cucumbers are an important constituent of the marine ecosystem as they play a key role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem

An Indian Coast Guard (ICG) team in southern Tamil Nadu state seized 600 kilograms of sea cucumber from a small boat that was involved in smuggling.

The market value of seized sea cucumbers is said to be around Rs 30 million ($400,000 approximately).

Based on a tip-off, the ICG team tracked the suspect vessel at Mandapam, Ramanathapuram district, and cordoned off the road to block their escape.

Subsequently, the boat was found to be anchored off Uchhipalli coast in Ramanathapuram on Tuesday afternoon.

The Coast Guard teams then rummaged the vessel and recovered 31 gunny bags of sea cucumber weighing 600 kgs. The boat, along with seized sea cucumbers, were then brought to Mandapam and handed over to the forest department officials.

Sea cucumbers are an important constituent of the marine ecosystem as they play a key role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem.

By excreting the inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus, sea cucumbers enhance the productivity of benthic animals —those living on the ocean floor.

One of the by-products of the sea cucumber's digestion of sand is calcium carbonate, a key component of coral reef. To survive, coral reefs must accumulate calcium carbonate, and thus sea cucumbers play a vital role in their preservation.

Sea cucumbers also maintain the transparency of seawater by eating sewage. Feeding and excretion by sea cucumbers also increase alkalinity, which counteracts ocean acidification.

Illegal harvesting and overexploitation of these animals leads to poorer sediment health, reduced nutrient recycling and impacting biodiversity.

In India, sea cucumber is treated as an endangered species and is listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

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