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Marine Ecology and Stock Assessment Program

Tag Retention and Effects of Tagging on Movement of the Giant Red Sea Cucumber

figure 4, tagged sea cucumber
Figure 4.  An underwater photograph of a tagged sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) in Amalga Harbor, Alaska.  A black arrow indicates the location of a single T-Bar tag attached to the sea cucumber.

Auke Bay Laboratories (ABL) researchers examined tag retention and the effects of tagging on short-term movements of the giant red sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus). Retention rates were monitored for six different tag types (Floy banner FTSL-73, cinch FT-4C, fingerling FTF-69, garment and single T-bar FD-94, and the coded-wire tag), which were applied to 30 individuals under laboratory conditions.

The single T-bar and coded-wire tags had the highest retention rates, with 70% and 60% retention after 16 weeks and 40% and 37% retention after 32 weeks.

To assess the effects of tagging and handling on movement, a field study was conducted in Amalga Harbor, Alaska, in which giant red sea cucumbers were tagged with T-bar tags (Fig. 4) and monitored for 24 hours.

Tagged and handled animals moved significantly farther than control animals. The median (linear) distance moved by control animals over 24 hours was 1.8 m (range: 0.24.2 m), whereas the median distance for tagged animals was 4.2 m (range: 0.422.7 m).

Short-term behavior was affected by both tagging and handling; therefore, we recommend that researchers minimize handling and wait at least 24 hours after tagging before monitoring P. californicus movements.

By Kristin Cieciel

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