Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India

Volume 28 Issue 1&2

A systematic appraisal of the commercially important gorgonids of the lndian Seas.

P. A. Thomas and Rani Mary George

The discovery of prostaglandins in gorgonids and their clinical possibilities initiated a general interest in this group as an easily available source of several 'wonder drugs'. The exploitation of gorgonids on a commercial basis from the Indian Seas since 1975 may be said to be a part of this world-wide 'hunt' for raw materials. These organisms are now being exported to several countries at an average rate of 3.6 tonnes per year under rough commercial grouping of 'black', 'red', 'monkey tail' and 'flower' types.

During the present survey specimens were examined both from the fishing centres and export samples. This study indicated that 22 species of gorgonids are being exploited from the Indian Seas at present and these are referable to 7 families and 15 genera. Among the families, the Paramuriceidae Bayer is well represented in the commercial landings with 9 widely distributed species under 5 genera. This is followed by Ellisellidae Gray with 7 species under 5 genera. Species such as Echinomuricea indica Thomson and Simpson, Heterogorgia flabellum (Pallas), Gorgonella umbraculum (Ell. and Sol.), Leptogorgia australiensis Ridley and Juncella juncea (Pallas), form the mainstay of the export in the order of abundance.

Detailed descriptions of all species, their classification, distribution, size attained, etc. are presented in this paper with sketches of spicular complements to facilitate easy identification.

Date : 31-12-1986