wildlife officials seized endangered marine wildlife such as organ pipe coral, sea cucumbers, trochus and turbo (shells) weighing 14 metric tonnes from Chennai port recently. These were illegally removed from coral beds in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The value of the seized material was estimated between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh in the international market.
"The consignment was booked as betel nut from the Andamans," disclosed deputy director, wildlife (southern region), R Hemanth Kumar. According to wildlife authorities, the red organ pipe coral ( Tubipora musica ) and sea cucumbers are categorised under Schedule I of the Marine Wildlife Act. The organ pipe coral is believed to have medicinal properties, while the sea cucumbers -- which were packed in gunny bags -- are a delicacy in south east Asian countries. In the Andamans, the sea cucumbers, measuring 400 mm, are primarily found in Port Blair.
The trochus and turbo are used in the manufacture of buttons, lamp shades and jewellery. The shells are found in the sea at a depth of 25 metres. The foot of the species is boiled, dried and consumed.
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