Sea Cucumber Research

 Communicated by Julia Elliott (University of Hull)

The University of Hull on a mission to save the sea cucumber.

The University is taking the lead in a major international project to save the sea cucumber - an extremely odd looking creature - but one of the ocean's most important marine species with environmental, gastronomic and potential medicinal qualities.

Dr Andrew Lawrence of the Department of Biological Sciences has been awarded El 60,700 by the Government's Darwin Initiative to develop a sustainable fishery on the Red Sea coast of Egypt.

Hull has beaten off stiff competition from other universities and conservation organisations to win the grant for the project which begins in September 2001. It is one of 31 projects under the prestigious Initiative which was established at the Rio Summit in 1992 and aims to safeguard the world's biodiversity.

Sea cucumbers are closely related to starfish and sea urchins and live predominantly in the Tropics. They are believed to have medicinal qualities in the treatment of whooping cough, bronchial inflammation and arthritis and also perhaps in the treatment of tumors. In the Far East in particular, they are also exploited as a dried, salted or smoked food called Trepang or Beche-de-mer.

'Sea cucumbers are in high demand and their fisheries have a history of over-exploitation and collapse, leaving behind a disrupted and impoverished environment,' said Dr Lawrence.

'This is made even worse by the fact that sea cucumbers are a key species, playing a vital role in the structure and function of coral reef communities. The degradation of the reefs adversely affect other fisheries and the tourist industry. In no case so far has a sea cucumber fishery been maintained and sustainable, which is why this project is so important.'

There are four main elements to the project:

  • To measure the current stocks of sea cucumbers to develop a sustainable fishery plan
  • To develop a pilot 'mariculture system' which will be used to restock depleted areas of the coast and small sitale, community based, farming systems.
  • To identify and extract certain materials from the sea cucumbers which have potential medical benefits - for example antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • To train local people in stock assessment methods and fishermen in mariculture techniques.

Three Egyptian research students will be coming to the University to work on the project with Dr Lawrence. It will be one of the first collaborations between the University and Hull's new World Ocean Discovery Centre, The Deep, which has offered to support the project in any way possible and help with the dissemination of the results. The University will also be working with the Suez Canal University, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and the Red Sea Governate.

'All four elements of the project will enable the Egyptian Government to put into place a management plan for the sustainable exploitation of sea cucumbers,' said Dr Lawrence.

More about the exploitation of sea cucumbers

  • Sea cucumber fisheries have collapsed throughout the Indo Pacific with many expensive species being commercially extinct in countries including the Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Fiji.
  • In one extreme case, demand has led to the development of an illegal fishery in the Galapagos Marine  Reserve. Attempts to close it have resulted in direct confrontation between fishermen and conservationists.
  • Clandestine fisheries have been set up on pristine islands and there have been disturbing cases of  ecoterrorism.
  • The fishery on the Red Sea Coast of Egypt would have most probably followed the pattern of other fisheries had this project not been developed.

More details: Julia Elliott, Public Relations Office 10482 466326

Release issued: 31/5/2001


Julia Elliott

Public Relations,

Administration Building

University of Hull

Hull HU6 7RX

Telephone: (01482) 466326

FAX: ( " ) 466442




August 10, 2001

Biologist Christiane Biermann Awarded Radcliffe Institute Fellowship

Evolutionary Scientist on Quest to Discover Genes that Generate Species Diversity


The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University has awarded a 200 1—2002 fellowship to Christiane Biermann, a postdoctoral investigator in evolutionary biology with the Friday Harbor Laboratories at the University of Washington. While at Radcliffe, Biermann will take advantage of the sea urchin genome project to determine the DNA sequences that are located on the chromosome close to a known sperm-egg recognition gene. She hopes to discover novel genes and mechanisms that generate species diversity in sear urchins.

A former Fullbright scholar, Biermann is interested in the diversity of life in the oceans. She combines laboratory and field observations with molecular genetics to investigate the evolution of marine invertebrates, ranging from variation between individuals to the origin of new species. Biermann*s work has focused on fertilization barriers and the molecular evolution of a sperm-binding protein in closely related sea urchin species from the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.

Biermann completed her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Manster (Germany) and Kings College (England) and earned her doctorate in ecologyand evolution from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She was awarded fellowships and research grants by NATO, the U.S. Antarctic Program, the University of Washington*s Friday Harbor Laboratories and the German Academic Exchange Service.

This year, 43 women and men were selected as Radcliffe Institute fellows. The projects were chosen for their quality and long-term impact on society. The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is a scholarly community where individuals pursue advanced work across a wide range of academic disciplines, nrofessions and creative arts. Within this broad purpose, the Radcliffe Institute sustains a continuing commitment to the study of women, gender and society. The Radcliffe Institute was formed in 1999 when Radcliffe College merged with Harvard University

For More Information

Radcliffe Office of Communications

Lilli Leggio: 617-496-3076


(See also: Echinoderm Websites)

The primary purpose of the site is to provide a taxonomic resource for the scientific community in which the genera and higher taxa of echinoid can be simply and rapidly identified.There are currently over 200 pages of detailed information about echinoid taxa. Here no holds are barred and technical terms abound. A reasonable grasp of echinoid morphology is assumed and these pages will be of most use to professional scientists and advanced researchers. For each genus information is given about the type species,  the key diagnostic characters, its stratigraphical and geographical distribution, species currently assigned with confidence (not necessarily exhaustive), and  remarks about recent scientific publications dealing with this taxon. Wherever possible highquality images are provided of specimens in oral,  aboral and lateral views as well as interpretive diagrams.

To access this information you can go direct to the Taxonomic index which  will take you to the appropriate page, or you can use the Keys where you  will find an illustrated step by step dichotomous key to help you identify which echinoid you have.

 This site is a long term project which will ultimately provide access to images of all described genera of echinoid, both recent and fossil. At present only about 20% of the genera are covered, but sections will be added as and when they are completed. The taxa that are covered comprehensively are as follows (with dates of posting or latest revision):

 Diadematoida (17/01/01)

 Pedinoida (23/2/01)

 Salenioida (5/12/00)

 Echinoida (5/12/00)

 Holectypoida (5/12/00)

 Clypeasteroida (15/6/01)

 In addition there is an Introduction giving some basic facts about how echinoids live, feed and reproduce for the casual visitor with no biological training, and a section entitled Morphology and morphological terms, providing some guidance to the formidable array of technical terms.

  Designed and created by Andrew B Smith, Department of Palaeontology,

 The Natural History Museum (email ).


Communicated by Thomas Brey

Dear friends and colleagues,

Herewith I wish to announce the online publication of



which you will find at

This handbook exists as a free of charge online version only tries to summary the actual stage of methods and techniques in population dynamics studies is neither complete nor will it ever be, because science is a continuous process

The author hopes you will find this handbook useful and you will forward its website to many colleagues waits for feedback from readers/users


Dr. Thomas Brey

Ecosystem Research

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

snailmail: P.O. Box 120161, D27515 Bremerhaven, Germany


voice:      ++49 (0) 471 4831 1316

Fax:         ++49 (0) 471 4831 1149


Phylum Echinodermata is now on the Tree of Life!

Announcement and call for participants

Contributed by Greg Wray

The Tree of Life project, organized by David Maddison of the University of Arizona, is a great resource for teaching and research  -- and a lot of fun to just browse. In brief, the aim of the project is to represent the hierarchical organization of life via world wide web pages that contain illustrations, group characteristics, and phylogenetic information. I've been asked to serve as the coordinator for our favorite phylum, and the base page for the phylum is now on line. A very nice page for Class Crinoidea (done by William Ausich and Charles Messing) has been up for some time. I like to invite you to visit these pages to get a feel for the Tree of Life project (the links are listed below). Please give the authors of their pages feedback about errors, omissions, arresting photos, and ideas for future features. While you're looking around, consider joining in the effort to flesh out some of the other major groups of echinoderms. Colin Sumrall and James Sprinkle have been working on some of the  Paleozoic "oddball" groups, and Emily Knott is tackling the Class Asteroidea. If you would like to become involved in authoring a taxon (class, order, family, genus, or species), please let me know.  Some groups are already spoken for, but many, many very interesting  taxa need to be represented. No programming experience is necessary.  If you're interested or just have questions, please email me at:

The Tree of Life home page:

Echinodermata:  echinodermata/echinodermata.html

Crinoidea:  echinodermata/crinoidea/crinoidea.html



Looking for good Ph.D. students

Contributed by Florence Thomas

Research Fellowships available for competitive students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. on the role of physical processes in the reproductive biology of marine invertebrates.  The University of South Florida offers excellent support for highly competitive graduate students.  If you are interested please contact me Dr. Florence Thomas

I am also  interested in attracting students interested in the role of physical processes in the nutrient dynamics of subtropical an tropical communities.


Dr. Daniel James reprints on Echinoderms. Those who are interested may please contact Dr.D.B. James at

No 13, Bharathiar Street, Metha Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600029 INDIA

Phone:  910443745351


A complete bibiliography of Dr. James' reprints can be found here.



(details and contacts below)

11th International Echinoderm Conference

1st Meeting of the German Speaking Echinoderm Researcher

International Conference on Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marketing of Sea Urchins


11th  International Echinoderm Conference Munich 2003

Communicated by Thomas Heinzeller

Please be informed that the website

is on-line!


The 11th International Echinoderm Conference will be held at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitét, Munich, Germany, from October 6  10, 2003. The Local Organising Comittee comprises members of the Medical Faculty (U.Welsch, T. Heinzeller), and of the Faculty of Geological Sciences (R.Leinfelder).

Registration and abstracts as well as special requests, comments and proposals should all be sent to T. Heinzeller, if ever possible by email

Those to whom it is not possible, may post to:

11th IEC 2003

Prof. Dr. Thomas Heinzeller

Anatomische Anstalt der LMU

Pettenkoferstrasse 11

D80336 Muenchen



Key Dates and Registration

Dates and Deadlines:

  • As soon as possible: booking of the hotel (for details see Accomodation)
  • April 1, 2003: Submission of abstracts. Only abstracts submitted in time can be included in the abstract booklet.
  • April 1, 2003: Latest date to pay the reduced registration fee
  • June 1, 2003: Submission of manuscripts for the proceedings volume
  • July 1, 2003: Deadline for room booking by the Munich Tourist Office

 Cancellations and Refunds:

  • between July 1, 2003, and September 1, 2003, requests will be refunded minus only a moderate handling fee
  • between September 2, 2003, and October 5, 2003: 50% refund
  • October 5, 2003, evening: Arrival and WelcomeParty
  • October 8, 2003, afternoon: Excursion, evening: Banquet
  • October 10, 2003, afternoon: to say goodbye
  • The days thereafter: Postconference excursions (see Social events and Excursions)


Downloading a registration form will be possible from April 2002

 Further links:

  IEC Homepage

  Venue, Travel and Accomodation

  Scientific Programme

  Presentations and Proceedings

  Social Events and Excursions

International Conference on Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marketing of Sea Urchins

Puerto Varas, Chile

March, 2003

Visit the Conference site at:



Eduardo Bustos, Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, Chile

Sergio Olave, Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, Chile

John Lawrence, University of South Florida, USA


Organizing Committee

Yukio Agatsuma, Tohoku University, Japan

Michael Barker, University of Otago, New Zealand

Charles-Francois Boudouresque, Université de la Méditerranée, France

Jose Luis Catoira Gómez, Conselleria de Acuicultura, Spain

Yaqing Chang, Dalian Fisheries University, People*s Republic of China

Nils Hagen, Bodř College, Norway

Kazuhiro Kawamura, Econixe Co., Ltd., Japan

Maeve Kelly, Scottish Association for Marine Science, United Kingdom

Susan McBride, University of California, USA

Shawn Robinson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada

Muki Shpigel, National Center for Mariculture, Israel


"1. Arbeitstreffen deutschsprachiger Echinodermenforscher"

 "1st Meeting of German Speaking Echinoderm Researcher"

May 11-13, 2001

Communicated by Mike Reich


was held at Greifswald (Northeastern Germany, 200 km north of Berlin on the Baltic Sea coast)