Depletion of the Sea Cucumber Population in the Galapagos Islands

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Depletion of the Sea Cucumber Population in the Galapagos Islands

Elizabeth Fox


One thousand kilometers off the Ecuadorian coastline lies the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the home to one of the world's most unique ecosystems. The Galapagos Marine Reserve covers an area about 51,000 square miles. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is measured by a 40 nautical mile radius from each of the outer islands. Within this large area around 2,900 marine species have been found and recorded. The Galapagos Islands have also been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site; which has led to the protection of terrestrial and marine wildlife. The Galapagos Islands are also home to a small human population which is dependent on the tourism and fishing industries. More specifically, sea cucumber fishing is a lucrative career to many residents of the Galapagos Islands. The profitability of sea cucumbers in foreign markets has led to the exploitation and depletion of the existing population in the Galapagos Islands.

The decrease in number of sea cucumbers could lead to the altering of the marine ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands.[1: "About the Galapagos Marine Reserve," Parque Nacional Galápagos, 29 June 2009, ]

Sea Cucumber Exploitation

Sea cucumbers are marine animals that are related to the starfish. These animals are slug-like and they move around the ocean floor on side-by-side pedal-like feet. Sea cucumbers feed off of the particles on the surfaces of rocks and sand. A diverse variety of sea cucumbers can be found in the shallow low tide of coral reefs, but they can be found in most marine environments. The sea cucumbers can be found in a large range of locations in the ocean, from the deep trenches to the shallow surface at low tide.3 Because of their location, sea cucumbers are very susceptible to overfishing...