Novel Use of PIT Tags in Sea Cucumbers: Promising Results with the Commercial Species Cucumaria frondosa

Gianasi, Bruno L. and Verkaik, Katie and Hamel, Jean-François and Mercier, Annie (2015) Novel Use of PIT Tags in Sea Cucumbers: Promising Results with the Commercial Species Cucumaria frondosa. PLoS ONE, 10 (5). ISSN 1932-6203

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The lack of a reliable and innocuous mark-recapture method has limited studies that would provide essential information for the management of commercial sea cucumbers. Tagging sea cucumbers is notoriously difficult because of their plastic nature and autolysis capacities. The markers that have so far been tested, mainly on or through the body wall, were either lost rapidly or had major drawbacks (e.g. suitable only for batch identification, requiring complex analysis, causing infections, necrosis, behavioural changes and mortality). The present study explored the efficacy of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags for individually marking sea cucumbers by assessing retention rates and long-term side effects of tags inserted in previously unstudied tissues/organs. Individuals of the species Cucumaria frondosa were tagged in the body wall, aquapharyngeal bulb and at the base of the oral tentacles. They were monitored closely for evidence of stress, infection, change in feeding and spawning behaviour and tag retention rate. Implanting the tag in an oral tentacle to reach the hydrovascular system of the aquapharyngeal bulb achieved the best retention rates in full-size individuals: from a maximum of 92% after 30 days to 68% at the end of the experimental period (300 days). Efficacy was lower in smaller individuals (84% after 30 d and 42% after 300 d). Following a slight increase in cloacal movements for 15 h post tagging, no side effect was noted in sea cucumbers tagged in the aquapharyngeal bulb via the tentacles. Feeding and spawning behaviours were not affected and no signs of infections or abnormal cell development in the vicinity of the tags were observed. This study indicates that marking sea cucumbers with 8.2 mm long PIT tags implanted via the oral tentacle is an effective technique, yielding relatively high retention rates over long periods without any detectable physiological or behavioural effects.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 11861
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Ocean Sciences
Date: 26 May 2015
Date Type: Publication
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