THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Inland water of the Vizhinjam-Mulloor coastal stretch in the district has thrown up four new species of sea slugs, recorded for the first time in the country. The discovery was made by Friends of Marine Life, a Valiyathura-based marine bio-diversity forum, and confirmed at the just-concluded World Congress of
Malacology 2016 held at Penang, Malaysia.
The sea slugs were identified as Glossodoris rufomaculatus, Goniobranchus annulatus, Hypselodoris nigrostriata, and Hoplodoris flammea, Friends of Marine Life chief coordinator Robert Panipilla said. In fact, the FML survey, conducted with the aid of local fishermen in 2015, had revealed the existence of more than 100 species of marine molluscs along the rocky reefs of southern Kerala.
Incidentally, the survey was conducted before dredging began in this stretch for the Vizhinjam international seaport project.
Dr A Biju Kumar, head, Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, who identified the specimens and presented the findings of Friends of Marine Life at the World Congress of Malacology, called for further studies and thorough documentation of the biodiversity of the Vizhinjam-Mulloor region. “Sea slugs, known scientifically as opisthobranchs, are the most colourful marine animals distributed in various habitats of the oceans, but abound in reef associated areas,” he said. “Several novel medicines including anti-cancer drugs have been developed from sea slugs,” he added.
FML warned that the Vizhinjam-Mulloor coastal stretch with unique reefs will soon be lost forever with the construction of the international seaport.
“This is just a seven km stretch of the state’s 590 km coastline. The state government should urgently take measures to study the biodiversity features of at least the inshore waters,” Panipilla said.