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Assessing movement of the California sea cucumber Parastichopus californicus in response to organically enriched areas typical of aquaculture sites

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Paul Van Dam-Bates, Daniel L. Curtis, Laura L. E. Cowen, Stephen F. Cross, Christopher M. Pearce

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An increasing global demand for sea cucumbers has led to interest in benthic ranching of the California sea cucumber Parastichopus californicus beneath existing aquaculture sites in British Columbia, Canada, where high levels of total organic matter (TOM) are typical. The objective of the present study was to investigate movement of P. californicus in relation to areas of increased organic content to assess the feasibility of sea cucumber ranching beneath existing aquaculture sites. A laboratory experiment using adult sea cucumbers showed that P. californicus changed their foraging behaviour based on available amounts of TOM, moving more randomly in high-TOM (~8.0%) areas and more directly in low-TOM (~1.4%) ones. They also moved more rapidly in areas with high TOM than in those with low TOM. As long as animals were exposed to high TOM, they did not abandon random movement. Because of this behaviour, aquaculture tenures may retain a population of cultured individuals, but could also attract wild individuals from the surrounding area.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
JournalAquaculture Environment Interactions
Early online date21 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Aquaculture, California sea cucumber, Foraging, Movement, Parastichopus californicus, Sea ranching, Holothurian

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