EXPLOITATION, USES AND CURRENT STATUS OF THE WEST INDIAN TOPSHELL CITTARIUM PICA (MOLLUSCA: GASTROPODA, TROCHIDAE) ALONG THE COLOMBIAN CARIBBEAN COAST.
The West Indian topshell, Cittarium pica is a common and conspicuous gastropod that thrives in Caribbean intertidal rocky shores and has been used for food by men since pre-Columbian times. Although, the exploitation of this resource is practiced only by artisanal fishermen and mainly for self-consumption, its abundance has noticeably reduced in the last ten years, so the species has been included in the endangered animal lists of several Caribbean countries, including Colombia. The present study was carried out to assess the current status of the population of C. pica along the Colombian Caribbean mainland and to describe the overall exploitation level and uses of this resource in recent times. In order to achieve so, Colombian Caribbean coast was divided into five zones according to the established distribution range of the species: 1-Urabá chocoano, 2-Isla Fuerte, 3-Cartagena and Rosario Islands, 4-Santa Marta and Tayrona Natural National Park, 5-La Guajira. In each one of the zones opinion polls among local inhabitants were conducted. A series of samples from representative stations were obtained in order to determine the abundance, density and size structure of the C. pica population. The fishing pressure on the resource is different between the sectors, being greater in Santa Marta and Tayrona Natural National Park, Urabá chocoano, and Cartagena and Rosario Islands. The main use given to C. pica is as dietary complement of the local population, but the flesh and shells are commercialized at times. Shells are sold to artisans and used for “souvenirs” and handcraft manufactures. The mean ecological density of C. pica in the entire study area was 5.38 Ind/m2 (± 0.82), with significant differences between sectors and between the stations within a sector as well. The size structure of the population (mean size = 25.08 mm ± 4.71, mode = 11.10 mm) suggests that in general the resource is being over-exploited in the Colombian Caribbean. This result confirms that C. pica is an endangered species in Colombia and its status as “vulnerable” in the red list should be maintained.
Cittarium pica; Gastropoda; Endangered species; Caribbean; Colombia
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