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Polyculture of the common New Zealand Sea Cucumber Stichopus mollis with Greenshell Mussels

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matt Slater


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The common New Zealand deposit-feeding holothurian Stichopus mollis showed high survivorship and growth when caged for six months beneath operating mussel farms. Animals held at 5/m2 - four times the highest observed natural densities - showed 100% survival and displayed significant growth. Growth was density dependent, with S. mollis at densities of 15/m2 showing a slight cumulative weight loss over the six month trial. In laboratory-based experiments, individual animals were maintained for 2 months on an exclusive diet of heavily impacted surface sediment collected from beneath mussel farms. Results strongly suggest that S. mollis is suited to culturing beneath mussel farms and for conversion of mussel waste stream.S. mollis specimens were caged at a series of three different densities beneath an operating mussel farm in Kennedy Bay, north-eastern New Zealand. Cage bottom area was 0.81m2. Three replicates of densities of two, four and 12 animals per cage were maintained for six months below the farm. Cages were forced into the sediment to allow the sea cucumbers access to the sediment surface to a depth of 1-2 cm. All animals were photo identified to facilitate the tracking of individual survivorship and growth under farm impacted conditions, monthly weight measurements were taken, animals were removed from the cages by SCUBA, identified and replaced. On average, S. mollis maintained in cages below the mussel farm at densities of 2 and 4 animals per cage showed weight increases of 14.84% and 11.57% of body weight, respectively, over a 5 month period. Animals kept below the farm at 12 per cage showed an average weight loss of 2.66% of body weight. Density was a significant factor for weight change (p= 0.006) for all groups with a Tukeys test revealing significant differences between 12 and 4, as well as 12 and 2 densities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Slater MJ, Carton AG

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: World Aqua

Year of Conference: 2006

Publisher: World Aquaculture Society