Actinopyga agassizi


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Actinopyga agassizi
Species Authority: (Selenka, 1867)
Common Name(s):
English Five-toothed Sea Cucumber, West Indian Sea Cucumber
Taxonomic Notes: Actinopyga agassizi is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Muelleria agassizi.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-05-18
Assessor(s): Toral-Granda, T.-G., Alvarado, J.J., Hamel, J.-F., Mercier, A., Benavides, M. & Paola Ortiz, E.
Reviewer(s): Elfes, C., Tognelli, M., Carpenter, K.E. & Knapp, L.
This species has a wide distribution. There is very little information available on its population and it occurs in some artisanal fisheries, but in less than 25% of its range. It is found to depths of 54 m and therefore has some refuge in deeper waters. Therefore it is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs in the Western Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, the Bahamas, Bermuda and northern Cuba. The type locality is from Tortugas Island, Florida.

Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Martinique; Mexico; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Panama; Puerto Rico; Saint Barthélemy; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is almost no information on the population of this species. It is probably not very common, and occurs at low densities. Densities in Costa Rica were 0.03 individuals per m2  (Bolaños et al. 2005).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This is a nocturnal (Toral-Granda et al. 2008), sea cucumber species that can reach 35 cm total length (Hendler et al. 1995), and inhabits rocky areas, sea grass beds and coral reefs (including coral reef lagoons) from shallow depths down to 54 m (Hendler et al. 1995). As with other Aspidochirotids it is a benthic species that feeds on detritus in the sea floor.

No information is known on changes of habitat requirements during the life history of the species, but generally, the juveniles of Aspidochirotids are cryptic and small individuals that may migrate into adult habitat later (Purcell 2004).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Actinopyga agassizi is caught in artisanal fisheries, usually by free diving. There are no data on landings for this species, although it is known from fisheries in Venezuela, Nicaragua and also in Panama (illegal fishing).

Although not one of the most important 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.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Actinopyga agassizi is fished, however very little information is known about the areas and quantities in which it is fished. Another potential threat is destruction of habitat in areas of high coastal development.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation measures in place for this species. In Panama, there is a ban on all sea cucumber fishing. It occurs in some protected areas, for example in Costa Rica and Colombia.

Bibliography [top]

Bola &ntilde os, N., Bourg, A., G &oacute mez, J. and Alvarado, J.J. 2005. Diversidade y abundancia de equinodermos en la laguna arrecifal del Parque Nacional Cahuita, Caribe de Costa Rica. Int. J. Trop. Biol. 53(3): 285-290.

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.

Bruckner, A.W., Johnson, K.A. and Field, J.D. 2003. Conservation strategies for sea cucumbers: Can a CITES Appendix II listing promote sustainable international trade? SPC Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin 18: 24-33.

Hasbún, C.R. and Lawrence, A.J. 2002. An annotated description of shallow water holothurians (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) from Cayos Cochinos, Honduras. Revista de Biología Tropical 50(2): 669-678.

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).

Purcell, S. 2004. Criteria for release strateges and evaluating the restocking of sea cucumbers. In: A, Lovatelli (ed.), Advances in sea cucumber aquaculture and management.. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper463, Rome.

Purcell, S.W. 2010. Managing sea-cucumber fisheries with an ecosystem approach. In: A. Lovatelli, M. Vasconcellos, Y.Yimin. (ed.). FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Techinical Paper No. 520., Rome.

Samyn, Y., Vandenspiegel, D. and Massin, C. 2006. A new Indo-Pacific species of Actinopyga (Holothuroidea: Aspidochirotida: Holothuriidae). Zootaxa 1138: 53-68.

Skewes, T., Haywood, M., Pitchern, R. and Willan, R . 2004. Holothurians. National Oceans Office, Hobart, Australia.

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.

Toral-Granda, V.M. 2007. The Biological and Trade Status of Sea Cucumbers in the families Holothuriidae and Stichopodidae. Convention on International Trade in Endangerd Species of Wild Fauna and Flora: 33. The Hague, Netherlands.

UNEP-WCMC. 2003. Species Database. Available at:

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

Citation: Toral-Granda, T.-G., Alvarado, J.J., Hamel, J.-F., Mercier, A., Benavides, M. & Paola Ortiz, E. 2013. Actinopyga agassizi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 30 March 2015.
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