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Indian J. Fish., 45(2) : 177-181, Apr.-Jan.

, 1998


A survey of bivalve molluscs in Gulf of Mannar, India

P. SHAUL HAMEED AND S. S. N. SOMASUNDARAM P. G. Department of Zoology, Jamal Mohamed College, Tiruchirapalli 620 020, India ABSTRACT Out of 55 species of bivalve molluscs collected from Gulf of Mannar, 49 species belonging to two subclasses, four orders and eighteen families were identified and classified. Mandapam and adjacent islands maintain a rich bivalve diversity than the other areas. A depleting trend on bivalve species diversity in the Gulf of Mannar was evident from the present study when compared with earlier records and the significance of the study is discussed. The Gulf of Mannar maintains a rich biological diversity of both marine flora and fauna. The twenty one tiny islands in the Gulf of Mannar near Mandapam have a rich and varied marine fauna in the lagoon and in and around the coral reefs. The Gulf of Mannar h a s been declared as a Marine National Park by the Tamil Nadu State Government in 1972. The Govt, of India has proposed to establish a Marine Biosphere Reserve Authority (Anon, 1984). A detailed investigation on the fauna has become imperative in this most productive area. This has become more important in the case of molluscs which are indiscriminately exploited. Earlier works on molluscs of the Gulf of Mannar include Thurston (1895); Iyengar and Parthasarathy (1927); Thomas (1972); S a t y a m u r t i (1952); N a y a r 91955); Alagarswami (1966); Appukuttan (1972); Nair and Rao (1974) and Nair and Dhramaraj (1980). Investigation on the biodiversity of bivalve molluscs will help in finding out the level of exploitation and depletion of the resource when compared with the earlier data. The Gulf of Mannar is a marine province situated between India and Sri Lanka along the longitute from 78 08' E to 79 30' E and latitute from 8 35'N to 9 20' N. This geographical area runs from Pamban Island including Rameswaram to Cape Comorin along India's southeast coast. The rich biological diversity of the Gulf of Mannar is largely due to the presence of diversified habitats such as seaweed beds, coral reefs, mangroves, rocks and sandy and muddy shores. The entire stretch of Gulf of Mannar (including islands) from Mandapam to Cape Comorin was considered for the bivalve survey and this study was undertaken for a period of two years from J a n u a r y '94 to December '95 (Fig. 1).

P. Shaul Hameed & S. S. N. Somasundaram.

178 Species : 1. Scapharca inaequivalvis (Bruguiere) 2. iS. qubernaculum (Reeve) 3. Trisidos tortuosa (Linnaeus) 4. Area complanata Order : Mytiloida Family : Mytilidae Species : Chemnitz

Fig. 1. Map ui' Gull ol' Mannar.



1. Perna viridis (Linnaeus) 2. P. indica Kuriakose and Nair 3. Modiolus metcalfei (Hanley) Family : Pinnidae Species : 1. Pinna atropurpurea 2. P. bicolor Gmelin 3. Atrina vexillum Sowerby

Since most bivalves of the Gulf of Mannar are eulittoral, they were hand picked directly from their habitats at the time of low tide. Bivalves occupying relatively deeper waters were collected from boats operating power dredging. Identification of specimens was carried out with the help of the reference specimens at the museum of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) at Mandapam and with the reference the books including Bulletin of Madras Government museum, New S e r i e s - N a t u r a l H i s t o r y Selection, (Satyamurti, 1952). The identified species and their systematics were verified with the Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta. Out of 55 species of bivalves collected, 49 species belonging to two subclasses, four orders and 18 families were identified. Six species are yet to be identified. A broad systematics of the identified species is as follows. Subclass : Pteriomorpha Order : Arcoida Family : Arcidae


Order : Pterioda Family : Pterioidae Species : 1. Pteria chinensis 2. Pinctada vulgaris (Leach) (Schumacher)

Family : Malleidae Species : 1. Malleus malleus (Linnaeus) Family : Pectinidae Species : 1. Volachlamys tranquebarica (Gmelin) 2. Chlamys crassicostata (Swerby) 3. Spondylus imperialis Chenu 4. Decadopecten plica (Linnaeus) Family : Anomiidae Species : 1. Placenta placenta (Linnaeus) Family: Ostreidae

Bivalues of Gulf of Mannar

179 Species : 1. Donax cuneatus Linnaeus 2. D. cortum Linnaeus 3. D. faba Schroeter Family : Semelidae Species : 1. Semele crenulata (Sowbery) Family : Veneridae Species : 1. Gafrarium tumidum (Roding) 2. G. dispar (Dillwyn) 3. G. divaricatum(Gmelin) 4. Meretrix casta (Gmelin) 5. Callista erycina (Linnaeus) 6. Paphia textrix (Schroeter) 7. P. malabarica (Schroeter) 8. Dosinia discus (Reeve) 9. Sunetta scripta (Linnaeus) 10. Circe scripta (Linnaeus) 11. Disina modesta (Sowbery) Of the four orders, Veneroida was predominant over the other orders and it included nearly 56 % (28 out of 49 species) of total number of the species recorded in the present investigation. The distribution of bivalves in the different regions of the Gulf of Mannar is given in Table 1. A scrutiny of the tabulated species shows that Mandapam and the adjacent areas maintain a richer bivalve diversity than the other sampling stations. The species of Scapharca, Pinna, Placenta, and Dosinia were abundant whereas green mussel Perna viridis and brown mussel P. indica were conspicuously absent. These mussels were plenty in the southern parts of the Gulf of Mannar (Tuticorin, Kundankulam and Cape Comorin). Rocky shore of these regions provide a suitable substratum for P. viridis and P. indica. The species of Donax were found in almost all the

Species: 1. Crassostrea cuttackensis (Neuton & Smith) 2. Saccostrea cucullata (Born) 3. Lopha folium (Gmelin) Subclass: Heterodonta Order: Veneroida Family: Lucinidae Species: 1. Anodontia edentula (Linnaeus) Family : Carditidae Species : 1. Cardites antiquata 2. Cardita varieguata Family : Cardiiae Species : 1. Trachycardium flavum 2. Cardium coronatum (Linnaeus) (Spengler) (Linnaeus) (Bruguiere)

Family : Tridacnidae Species : 1. Tridacna maxima (Roding) Family : Mactridae Species : 1. Mactra turqida (Nobrellects) 2. M. mera Deshayes Family : Solenidae Species : 1. Solen lamarckii (Deshayes) (Gmelin)

2. Cultellus


Family : Tellinidae Speceies : 1. Tellina ansulata Linnaeus 2. Macoma ala (Hanley) 3. M. bruguiera (Hanley) Family : Donacidae

P. Shaul Hameed & S. S. N. Somasundaram

TABLE 1. Distribution of bivalve species in different

180 sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mannar. Among the three species, Donax faba is predominant in number over D. cuneatus and D. scortum. The relative abundance of D. faba and D. cuneatus was found to be approximately in 3:1 ratio. The veneriod clams such as Gfrarium tumidum were restricted in distribution but were found in large number in a specific area between Chinnappalam, Kundugal Point and in Krusadai Island. The bivalves belonging to the genera Malleus, Pteria, Pinctada, Pinna and Spondylus occupied the eulittoral zone which is always sub-tidal. Some of them are byssus bearing forms such as ear shell (Pinna) and pearl oyster (Pinctada). A dense population of Pinna was found in several patches in the Gulf of Mannar. They are closely associated with sea weed beds in and around the different islands such as Krusadai, Mannali and Pumuruchan. Four species belonging to the family Arcidae were recorded in the present study. Scapharca sp v Trisidos and Area occupy a specific habitat of muddy bottom with lot of decomposing organic matter. The family Semelidae was represented by a single species namely Semele crenulata which is a burrowing form in sandy shores. The study on bivalve species in the Gulf of Mannar indicates a depleting trend in abundance when compared with the earlier reports. About 152 species were reported from this area by Satyamurti (1952) while the present study could record only 55 species. Intense fishing activities for shrimps indiscriminately scoops out the bivalve species which are subsequently thrown out on the shore. This is especially true for the reef dwelling bivalves and their depletion is attributed largely to the illegal mining of coral reefs. Consequently the bivalve mollusc population is vanishi-

regions of Gulf of Mannar


S. no.

Manda- Tutipam corin (Pamban-Kilakarai) + + + +

Kund- Cape anku- Comolam rin

1. S. inaequivalvis 2. S. qubernaculum 3. T. tortuosa 4. A. complanata 5. P. viridis 6. P. indica 7. M. metcalfei 8. P. atropurpurea 9. P. bicolor 10. A. vexillum 11. P. chinensis 12. P. vulgaris 13. M. malleus 14. V. tranquebarica 15. C. crassicostata 16. S. im.peria.lis 17. D. plica 18. P. placenta 19. C. cuttackensis 20. S. cucullata 21. L. folium. 22. A. edentula 23. C. antiquata 24. C. variegata 25. T. flavum 26. C. coronatum 27. T. maxima 28. M. turqida 29. M. mera 30. S. lamarckii 31. C maximus 32. T. ansulata 33. M. a/a 34. M. bruguiera 35. D. cuneatus 36. D. scortum 37. Z). /a.6a 38. S. crenulata 39. G. tunmidum 40. M. casta 41. C erycina 42. P. tertra; 43. P. malabarica 44. D. discus 45. S. scripta 46. C scripta 47. Z). modesta 48. G. dispar 49. G. divaricatum + : Recorded;

+ + +

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

+ +

+ +

+ +

+ +

+ +

+ + + +

+ + + +

+ + + +

_ + +

+ + + +

+ + + +

+ + + +

+ +

+ +

+ +

+ +

_ :

Not recorded

Bivalves of Gulf of Mannar

181 Bay. Proc. Symp. Corals and Coral Reefs, Marine Biological Association of India, Mandapam, p. 379-398. Iyengar, M. and O. Parthasarathy 1927. Krusadai Island flora. Bull. Madras Govt. Mus. N.S., 1 : 185-188. Nayar, K.N. 1955. Studies on the growth of Wedge clam Donax cuneatus Linnaeus. Indian J. Fish., 2: 325-348. Nair, R.V. and K.S. Rao 1974. The Commercial molluscs of india. Bull. Cent. Mar. Fish. Inst, No. 25, 168 pp. Nair, N.B. and K. Dharmaraj 1980. Wood boring molluscs of the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. Mahasagar, 13 : 249-260. Satyamurti, S. T. 1952. The Mollusca of Krusadai Island, Gulf of Mannar. Bull. Madras Govt. Mus. (Nat. Hist.), 1 (2) (Part 7), 201 pp. Thomas, P. A. 1972. Boring sponges of the reefs of Gulf of Mannar. Proc. Symp. Corals and Coral Reefs, Marine Biological Association of India, Mandapam, p. 333-362. Thurston, E. 1895. Rameswaram Island and the fauna of Gulf of Mannar. Bull. Madras Govt. Mus., 2 : 108-112.

ng faster than getting replenished. It is imperative to create an awareness among the fishermen community about the importance of species diversity and they may be instructed to put the commercially 'unimportant' organisms like bivalve molluscs back to water soon after the fishing operation.

The authors thank Prof. N. Abdul Samadh, Principal and Dr. M. Subramaniam, Head, Department of Zoology, J a m a l Mohamed College, Tiruchirapalli for institutional support. The authors are also grateful to the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt, of India, New Delhi for funding the research project.

Alagarswami, K. 1966. Studies on some aspects of biology of the wedge clam Donax faba Gmelin from Mandapam coast in Gulf of Mannar. J. mar. biol. Ass. India, 8 : 56-75. Anon. 1984. Man and bisopheres Establishment of biosphere reserve in India. Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, Project Document No. 5, 105 pp. Appukuttan, K. K. 1972. Coral-boring bivalves of Gulf of Mannar and Palk