[Coral-List] illegal coral trade

Tim Wijgerde t.wijgerde at coralscience.org
Wed Dec 30 09:57:02 EST 2009

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Dear all,
 recently, a new coral species
made its way into the marine aquarium hobby. The species of concern is
Rhizotrochus typus, a solitary azooxanthellate Scleractinian from the
Flabellidae family. 
 Their have been recent reports of the
possible illegal nature of this particular species. This led me to consult
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Arlington, Virginia, after which I
was informed that in 2008 300 specimens of this species were exported to
the United States from Tonga. A CITES database query indeed revealed that
this species was exported mainly from Tonga, through Hong Kong, Singapore
and even Canada. 
 My question is; does anyone have any
information regarding the bathymetrical distribution of R. typus around
Tonga? Most specimens could be located in deep waters, beyond safe diving
limits. Some speculate that these corals are actually illegally shipped
from other countries where collection is facilitated by the occurrence of
R. typus in more shallow waters. 
 Very high numbers of coral
are being traded annually, often including questionable coral shipments,
and wild collection of specimens which affects local ecosystems should be
banned as much as possible.

Tim Wijgerde, M.Sc.
Molecular marine
CEO Coral Publications
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