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Divers find rare Albino sea cucumber in Croatian Adriatic

Albino sea cucumber in Croatian Adriatic sea

(Photo credit: UPA Rostrum Split)

Divers from the Rostrum Association for Underwater Activities in Split (UPA Rostrum Split) have captured a rare and fascinating sight near the Croatian island of Čiovo.

UPA Rostrum Split have come across an albino sea cucumber.

“There are not many recorded findings of albino sea cucumbers in scientific literature worldwide. One of the rare findings was in the northern Adriatic in 2006, when an albino sea cucumber of the species Ocnus planci was spotted,” explained Pero Ugarković from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Morski.hr. reported.

“The divers from UPA Rostrum Split left the sea cucumber in the sea, as they should. It is important that it continues to perform its vital natural role on the seabed off Čiovo,” said Ugarković.

Sea cucumbers are extremely important for the ecological system of the sea floor. Their harvesting is now prohibited as they are under permanent protection.

However, this does not stop irresponsible individuals along our coast from poaching and smuggling them into restaurants in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and further into Asia.

“Sea cucumbers are beneficial on several levels. Firstly, they burrow into the seabed, making it softer and facilitating easier oxygenation. They then suck up sediment from the bottom, extracting nutrients for their needs (this includes small organisms, plant and animal matter, fungi, etc.).

The purified sediment-sand is then expelled into the environment, where it still contains some nutrients for other marine organisms. Additionally, dissolved chemical compounds (nitrates, phosphates, etc.) released into the environment can be absorbed by other organisms, which serve as food for both sea cucumbers and other creatures, creating a remarkable natural recycling process.

Albino sea cucumber in Croatian Adriatic sea

(Photo credit: UPA Rostrum Split)

Most importantly, adult sea cucumbers can ‘clean’ 5-10 kg of sand per month. Imagine how much sand they process annually. Next time you see a bay full of sea cucumbers, don’t be disgusted.

Rest assured, the sand in that bay is cleaner and healthier than in bays where we have eradicated these valuable and modest organisms for selfish reasons, whether it be for profit, coastal development with sewage discharge into the sea, landfilling, or other reasons that have led to the loss of the crystal-clear sea we once boasted of,” Đani Iglić, a professional diver from Bibinje and author of several books on Adriatic species, told Morski.hr.


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