Overcollection of Flamboyants - Asian Pet Trade

Discussion in 'The Octopus' Den' started by micstarz, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. micstarz

    micstarz Blue Ring Registered

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    I am sure all cephalopod keepers have heard about the overcollection of Metasepia pfefferi for the Asian pet trade mentioned at one point or another. It is considered a very rare and prized species in the US and the UK with a hefty price tag. We all can agree that we rarely see Flamboyant cuttlefish available in the pet trade - however, this did not turn out to be the case in Hong Kong, where I live.

    On the 30th of March, I spotted a single Flamboyant cuttlefish for sale in a marine LFS in Hong Kong. It was priced at only $50 USD. Two days later on the first of April I bought that cuttlefish, thinking it was a rare find in the aquarium trade, since I had only ever seen M. pfefferi for sale in Hong Kong one other time (and the price tag was much heftier). The very next day, another LFS received a shipment of FIFTEEN young Flamboyant cuttlefish - they are currently on sale for $50 USD each, and a third LFS also had a Flamboyant up for sale. This sudden increase in their availability is proof that concerns over their overcollection are very valid!

    The Chinese-speaking aquarist community also no not seem to realize that cuttlefish have short lifespans -the larger flamboyants which seemed full grown at 3-4 inches were priced at $75 USD while the juveniles which were 2 inches long were priced at $50 USD.
     
  2. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    While I am concerned about their collection, I am not sure that we know they are being over collected. Collected yes, overcollected - we just don't know. If you have any information about them being over collected, it would be great to hear. From what I can gather about 100 hit the world wide market, all from PH, and I am not sure that we should count that as over collection.

    In the last couple of week some wild ones have hit the market, and the last time this happened was 2 years ago. It was concerning that there were none (or few) available last year, but them showing up this year seems like a good thing.



    That said, my standard disclaimer about caution with this species
    "Even experienced ceph keepers with mature tanks should think long and hard before obtaining this species. Their needs are resource intensive, specific, and not yet fully understood. Perhaps more importantly, the size and health of their wild populations is unknown.

    Even the sharing of information, photos and video of these animals can be controversial. Some fear that detailed information and attractive photos may encourage inexperienced saltwater aquarists to obtain specimens. Personally, I believe that knowledge should be freely available, rather than hidden from view. I also believe that the admiration of a species can be of benefit to its preservation in the wild rather than its detriment. Furthermore, it is my hope that the information on the site will empower aquarists to make sound, rational decisions regarding the advisability of keeping these very difficult animals."
     
  3. micstarz

    micstarz Blue Ring Registered

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    It's quite a different situation with the Chinese pet trade - little to no regard is given to the status of the species in the wild but from what I gather from my limited reading they are also threatened by trawling in many sandy bottom areas in the wild - their sudden boost in popularity in conjunction with the price they fetch (even though $50 USD is considered cheap by TONMO standards, it is on the moderately pricey section of the price spectrum for marine animals in Hong Kong) has prompted more and more shops to deliberately order them in from collectors in the tropics. This can never be good!

    I will try to post some pictures of the flamboyants for sale here in HK tomorrow.
     
  4. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I am looking for information that you may have on Flamboyants being in trouble or being over collected. While I am concerned about their collection, I am also concerned that we don't make unsupported claims and would prefer to say 'we should be cautious' instead of 'they are in danger' if we really don't know if they are in danger. Thanks.
     
  5. micstarz

    micstarz Blue Ring Registered

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    Perhaps I should rephrase what I said above - I think I sensationalized my language in a way that changed what I really meant to say. What I meant to say is that the increased interest and demand for them to be exported for sale in Hong Kong cannot be good for the wild population...I think you would agree!
     
  6. micstarz

    micstarz Blue Ring Registered

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    Pictures of the said cuttlefish. Many of them had already sold when I returned to the shop today.

    Edit: Sorry about the bad quality. The shop had a no-pictures rule.
     

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