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Blast fishing blamed for widespread sea cucumber deaths

Update: September, 21/2015 - 16:58
Sea cucumbers wash ashore in Phu Quoc Island District. — Photo tuoitre.vn

PHU QUOC (VNS) —The use of dynamite by local fishermen to catch grouper or sea cucumbers has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of sea cucumbers, Tuoi tre (Youth) online newspaper reported today.

The phenomenon was noticed when massive numbers of sea cucumbers washed ashore from Dinh Cau to Cua Lap in southern Kien Giang Province's Phu Quoc Island District last Friday.

Using dynamite to catch fish destroys the coral reefs–-the home of the sea cucumber---which causes this situation, said Vu Ngoc Long, head of the Southern Institute of Ecology.

When the home of the sea cucumber is damaged, high tides and large waves sweep the sea cucumbers to the shore, Long said.

Professor Dang Huy Huynh, chairman of the Viet Nam Zoological Society, said pollution was suspected to be one of the causes for the deaths.

Authorised agencies should ensure that waste discharged from tourism activities, fishing and aqua farming is properly treated to ensure a safe environment for marine life, he said.

Nguyen Van Long, a local resident in Duong To Commune, said he collected some 100kg of sea cucumbers that day.

"Too many sea cucumbers were found. It must have amounted to about 2 tonnes. I've never seen this before," he said.

Vu Ngoc Long, from the Southern Institute of Ecology, said this was the breeding season for sea cucumbers. It often lasts two months.

Sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea) belong to the group of animals called echinoderms. More than 1,250 species of sea cucumbers can be found in oceans throughout the world. Sea cucumbers usually live on the sea floor. Only a few species live near the surface of the water.

The size of the sea cucumber depends on the species. The smallest species can reach 0.12 inches, while the largest species can reach 3.3 feet in length. Most species are usually 3.9 to 12 inches long. The lifespan of the sea cucumber also depends on its species. Most species live between 5 and 10 years in the wild. — VNS

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