Thursday, November 08, 2007

Stichopus herrmanni vs Stichopus chloronotus

The identity of the sea cucumber (see post) spotted at Pulau Semakau in August has finally been confirmed as Stichopus herrmanni. Below is the reply from Dr. Claude Massin from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium.

“Dear Colleague,

At first glance your specimen could be confused with a Stichopus chloronotus. However, if S. chloronotus has large dorsal papillae with orange tips, these papillae are always well aligned on rows. On your specimen, all the dorsal papillae have the same size and are evenly dispersed. This colour pattern is more reminiscent of S. herrmanni. Moreover, you have a lot of rosettes in your preparations. In S. chloronotus the rosettes are said to be absent or very rare. If you check the size of the C-shaped rods, it is also easy to separate S. chloronotus from S. herrmanni.

S. chloronotus: in dorsal body wall, maximum 45 µm long; in ventral body wall maximum 70 µm long.
S. herrmanni: in the dorsal body wall, 35-100 µm long; in the ventral body wall maximum 150 µm long.

I think your specimen is a particularly dark morph of S. herrmanni.”

Stichopus herrmanni (dark form)

Stichopus chloronotus

Stichopus herrmanni (greyish-green form)

In all the previous reference books and papers, pictures of S. herrmanni are always greyish-green or brownish-green in colour. Looks like we have observed a rather rare dark morph of this species.

Several studies on their reproductive cycle have been conducted in various parts of the world. In Iran, S. herrmanni spawn during the peak of summer in July-August while in New Caledonia, they spawn during the months of January-February. In both cases, warmer seawater temperature is the trigger for reproduction. I wonder what is the situation in Singapore where there is no significant seasonal climate differences in tropical Southeast Asia.

I’ve had the opportunity to interact with several echinoderm experts around the world and have gained much knowledge. I certainly look forward to more advice from them.

Pictures taken at: Pulau Semakau, August 2007; S. chloronotus and S. herrmanni (greyish-green form) are from the book Taxonomie des holothuries des Comores.


Massin, C., Y. Zulfigar, A. S. H. Tan & S. Z. Rizal Boss, 2002. ‘The genus Stichopus (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) from the Johore Marine Park (Malaysia) with the description of two new species’, Bulletin de l’Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Biologie, vol. 72, pp. 73-99.

Samyn, Y., D. VandenSpiegel & C. Massin, 2006. Taxonomie des holothuries des Comores, Abc Taxa (Volume 1), Belgium.

Tehranifard, A., S. Uryan, G. Vosoghi, S. M. Fatemy & A. Nikoyan, 2006. ‘Reproductive cycle of Stichopus herrmanni from Kish Island, Iran’, SPC Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin, vol. 24, pp. 22-27.


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