Astichopus multifidus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Echinodermata Holothuroidea Aspidochirotida Stichopodidae

Scientific Name: Astichopus multifidus (Sluiter, 1910)
Taxonomic Notes: Astichopus multifidus may also be known as Stichopus multifidus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-05-18
Assessor(s): Toral-Granda, M.V, Alvarado, J.J., Benavides, M., Paola Ortiz, E., Hamel, J.-F. & Mercier, A.
Reviewer(s): Elfes, C., Tognelli, M. & Knapp, L.

This species has a wide distribution and has been important in fisheries in Panama, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. In Panama, Costa Rica, and Venezuela, all sea cucumber fishing activities are banned. However, illegal fishing may occur in Panama. There is no fishing information from other parts of its range and no evidence that it is fished. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This Caribbean species occurs from the southeastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico, south to Colombia and Venezuela, and east to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama and Bahamas. It is found at depths between 1-37m (Miller and Pawson 1984).
Countries occurrence:
Aruba; Bahamas; Belize; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominican Republic; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Puerto Rico; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):37
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The average density reported for this species in Bocas del Toro, Panama (4.9 individuals per ha) may indicate current critical overfishing levels. The estimated size of the total population in that area was 231,000 individuals (Guzman and Guevara 2002). This species was absent in 95% of protected areas around Cayos Zapatillas in Panama (Guzman and Guevara 2002).

Along the eastern and central Yucatan coast (Mexico) a density of 5.92 individuals per ha was found in the east and 32.18 individuals per ha in the central coast. The total biomass was estimated at approximately 16,000 tonnes for an area of approximately 1.2 million hectares (Moguel et al. 2003).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This species prefers soft bottoms with muddy or sandy patches, in and around Thalassia seagrass beds (Miller and Pawson 1984, Toral-Granda 2008).  It is also found in areas of calcareous algae (Miller and Pawson 1984), and prefers deeper, calmer reef environments (Hendler et al. 1995).


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is one of the most important commercial species in the Caribbean, with fishing activties in Panama (Toral-Granda 2008), and Jamaica. It is of potential commercial interest in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Bruckner 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Although not one of the most valuable species for fishery purposes, it can be expected that this species may become more popular after the depletion or reduction of other species of higher commercial importance and value. It can be considered an emerging commercial species, because higher value Indo-Pacific species are becoming scarce.

A stock assessment of this species conducted by Guzman and Guevara (2002) suggests that if the fishing pressure from 1997 is maintained, the population of this species in Boca del Toro, Panama would collapse in nine days.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

In Panama, Costa Rica, and Venezuela, all sea cucumber fishing activities are banned (Toral-Granda 2008). Illegal fishing may occur in Panama (J. Alvarado pers. comm. 2010). The fishery for this species in Nicaragua is unregulated. The distribution of this species overlaps with some protected areas.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: Corrected assessor name that had the incorrect initials.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.2. Back Slope
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.5. Inter-Reef Soft Substrate
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

Bruckner, A. 2006. The proceedings of the technical workshop on the conservation of sea cucumbers in the families Holothuriidae and Stichopodidae. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR 44. NOAA, Silver Spring, MD.

Collin, R., Díaz, M.C., Norenburg, J., Rocha, R.M., Sánchez, J.A., Schulze, A. Schwartz, M. and Valdés, A. 2005. Photographic identification guide to some common marine invertebrates of Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Caribbean Journal of Science 41(3): 638-707.

Guzman, H.M. and Guevara, C.A. 2002. Population structure, distribution and abundance of three commercial species of sea cucumber (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) in PanamaCommercial Species of Sea Cucumber (Echinodermata) in Panama. Caribbean Journal of Science 38(3-4): 230–238.

Hendler, G., Miller, J.E., Pawson, D.L., Kier P.M. 1995. Sea stars, sea urchins, and allies. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Miller, J.E. and Pawson, D.L. 1984. Holothurians (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea). Florida Department of Natural Resources, St. Petersburg, Florida.

Moguel, C.Z., Lara, V.R., Cruz, M.K., Herrera, I.H., Cervera, K.C., Fuentes, D.D.A., Briseno, P.A., Ortize, E. and Ortiz, M.G. 2003. Sea Cucumber (Astichopus multifidus, Isostichopus badionotus and Holuthria floridana) Biomass Estimation in Two Areas of Yucatan Coast between October of 2000 to March of 2001 Year. Proceedings of the 54th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute.

Toral-Granda, M.W., Lovatelli, A., Vasconcellos, M. (eds). 2008. Sea cucumbers. A global review of fisheries and trade. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 516.. FAO, Rome.

Toral-Granda, V.M. 2006. Fact sheets and identification guide for commercial Sea cucumber species.

World Database of Protected Areas. 2010. Marine Protected Areas. Available at: (Accessed: 1 December).

Citation: Toral-Granda, M.V, Alvarado, J.J., Benavides, M., Paola Ortiz, E., Hamel, J.-F. & Mercier, A. 2013. Astichopus multifidus. In: (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T180493A102417783. . Downloaded on 23 May 2018.
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