Aboitiz Equity Ventures: Endangered Sea Cucumber Found in Aboitiz Cleanergy Park


An endangered sea cucumber discovered in Aboitiz Cleanergy Park

Sep 16, 2022

Dr. Ruth Gamboa and her field assistant, Brian Sabanal, took photos of the sea cucumbers found at Aboitiz Cleanergy Park.

The sea cucumber puti-an, scientifically known as Holothuria scabra, is currently an endangered species (EN) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List because its population faces a high risk of extinction in the wild. The risk is mainly attributed to overfishing due to its high value in the fishing trade.

The puti-an is one of 1,250 known species of sea cucumbers related to starfish and sea urchins. All sea cucumbers are ocean dwellers, inhabiting both the shallow and deep ocean. Typically they are gleaned from shallow seagrass beds or fished from deeper reefs by snorkeling or compressor.

Surprisingly, a rapid scan conducted by researchers from the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Mindanao) in September 2021 revealed the existence of the endangered puti-an on the beach of Aboitiz Cleanergy Park in Sitio Punta Dumalag, Matina Aplaya , Davao City. In 2015, the team also carried out a rapid analysis of the beach and the coastal reef. However, the puti-an was not encountered within the observation transects.

Edible sea cucumbers like puti-an are exported to other Asian countries which consider it a delicacy. In the Philippines, there is no specific law aimed at the management of sea cucumbers, so high-value species are overharvested.

“Being listed by the IUCN as ‘endangered’ means that monitoring and regulation of puti-an fishing must be in place to prevent the species from becoming critically endangered or worse, extinct” , UP Mindanao senior researcher Dr. Ruth Gamboa explained.

Holothuria scabra or puti-an in and out of sea water respectively.

Gamboa pointed out that they can’t really verify if the puti-an didn’t exist in the area before the recent survey since their team only did a quick sweep of the beach. She says puti-an’s case is now worth another study.

Besides the puti-an, the team also found a vulnerable species (Vu) hanginan or Stichopus horrens. Vulnerable species means that their population is in continuous decline and their rate of reproduction cannot catch up with the rate of harvest. “Over time, these species may also become endangered,” Gamboa added.

“We are pleased with the results of the rapid scan conducted by UP Mindanao in Aboitiz Cleanergy Park. It has inspired us to continue our conservation efforts, not only for the endangered hawksbill turtles, but for other marine species that regard the park as a refuge,” said Rodger Velasco, President and COO of Davao Light.

The IUCN Red List assesses the rate of extinction of populations of species on a global scale. And sometimes a global category may be different when applied to a regional or national category. Currently, the Philippine Aquatic Red List Committee of the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) is conducting a national assessment of the sea cucumber population in the country.

Sea cucumbers are considered guardians of the seabed. Their tentacles pick up tiny debris and waste small enough to fit in their mouths. They form burrows in the sand that help loosen sediment, speed up the rate of decay of organisms, and mix the substrate preventing clogging of the ocean floor. These “janitors” keep coastal ecosystems, such as the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park, healthy and clean.

Aboitiz Cleanergy Park is an eight-hectare ecological reserve and urban biodiversity management site.

Aboitiz Cleanergy Park is an eight-hectare biodiversity park that is a known nesting ground for critically endangered (CR) hawksbill turtles and is now a refuge for other threatened marine species such as sea cucumbers. sea. The park is also considered a refuge for more than 100 species of birds, of which 12 species are endemic to the Philippines.

The Aboitiz Cleanergy Park supports scientific studies for its management programs. It is managed by AboitizPower’s subsidiary, Davao Light and Power Co., Inc., and Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., the corporate social responsibility arm of the Aboitiz Group. #


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