Aspects of the reproductive cycle of the sea cucumber Holothuria scabra (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea)
The economically valuable sea cucumber,Holothuria scabra (sandfish) is distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific in subtidal estuarine habitats and exploited heavily for markets in the Asia-Pacific region. With interest growing in the aquaculture of this animal, it is essential to understand the mechanisms regulating the reproductive cycle and refine husbandry practices. From July 1996 to December 1997 the reproductive cycle of male and female H. scabra was followed for a local population at Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay (27°30′N, 153°24′E) Australia. The gutted weight gonad index peaked in November of both years while no obvious progression of oocyte size was noticed. The gametogenic cycle coincided with a period of body wall weight loss from mid-winter to mid-summer. During gametogenesis there was a continuous presence of mature oocytes that were either reabsorbed or spawned during or prior to the vitellogenic period from September to November. It was likely that stored nutrients in the body wall were used for gametogenesis during the latter part of winter and that in response to its environment, oocyte production was regulated by phagolytic activity. If at any point in the gametogenic period, naturally occurring oocyte vitellogenesis in collected animals could be bolstered in some individuals and the onset of maturation (gametogenesis) triggered in others then individual H. scabra could be induced to spawn out of season.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2000-01-01
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