Experts look at ways to use sea cucumbers’ potential in saving our seas

February 3rd, 2011 - 6:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 3 (ANI): Researchers at the Newcastle University, UK, are investigating how to use sea cucumbers in developing a more sustainable way of farming in the sea.

Sea cucumbers are not only a delicacy in Asia and a rich source of nutrients, but also an important part of the marine ecosystem.

Much like worms working soil in a garden, sea cucumbers are responsible for cleaning up the seabed - moving, consuming and mixing marine sediments.

Used widely in Chinese medicine and cuisine, they are also a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are used in a range of common food supplements.

Matthew Slater, an expert in sea cucumbers and part of Prof Selina Stead’s team, said the aim was to investigate the sea cucumber’s potential as a natural, organic cleaner on fish farms around the world - including the UK - as well as a source of food.

“We wanted to find a way to clean up waste produced by large-scale aquaculture so that farming activities in the sea have little or no impact on the ocean floor,” he said.

“By growing sea cucumbers on waste from fish farms we are not only farming a valuable food product and giving the wild sea cucumber populations a chance to recover, but are also developing solutions to fish farming impacts,” he added.

Until now, the team has carried out most of the work at Newcastle University’s laboratory. The next step is to introduce the sea cucumbers to fish farms around the UK and farm them as both cleaners and food.

The sea cucumber project will be unveiled on Friday as part of a marine conference being held at Newcastle University.

The conference will bring together the university’s world-leading expertise in marine science and technology to provide answers for dealing with key challenges facing the marine environment now and in the future. (ANI)

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