Note on the Genus maretia gray, 1855 and Description of Maretia planulata (Lamarck, 1816) (Echinoidea, Spatangoida), off Thoothukudi Coast of Gulf of Mannar, India (08º 35’ 22.5” N 78º 27’ 40.9 E) – (310 M)  

T. Vaitheeswaran , T. Rajasekaran , S. Balasubramani
Rarbio Energies Private Limited, Department of New Drug Discovery (Marine Division), #311/2, Vellalar Street, Mel Ayanambakkam, Chennai- 600 95, Tamil Nadu, India
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 32   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2015.05.0032
Received: 20 Mar., 2015    Accepted: 06 May, 2015    Published: 20 May, 2015
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Vaitheeswaran et al., 2015, Note on the Genus maretia gray, 1855 and Description of Maretia planulata (Lamarck, 1816) (Echinoidea, Spatangoida), off Thoothukudi Coast of Gulf of Mannar, India (08º 35’ 22.5” N 78º 27’ 40.9 E) – (310 M), International Journal of Marine Science, Vol.5, No.32 1-3 (doi: 10.5376/ijms.2015.05.0032)


Heart sea-urchin was collected from Thoothukudi coast of Gulf of Mannar, Southeast coast of India on April 11, 2014. This specimen was classified as Maretia planulata (Lamarck, 1816) belonging to the family Spatangidae. The most speciose echinoid orders, Spatangoida and Clypeasteroida, are abundant in the Indo-West Pacific and Caribbean. This genus and species are newly recorded in two distinct Indo-Pacific marine zones. One specimen was caught at the depth of 310 m as an incidental by-catch. It was found in tropical waters from about 08º 35’ 22.5”N 78º 27’ 40.9 E/310 m from Thoothukudi fishing harbour, southeast coast of India. This species inhabits tropical waters and usually distributed over the West Pacific from southern Japan to Australia.

Spatangidae; Maretia planulata; First record; Thoothukudi coast; Gulf of Mannar

The genus Hemipatagus was established in 1858 by Desor for the species Spatangus hoffmanni Goldfuss, 1829. Subsequently, Agassiz (1873) placed Hemipatagus is synonymy with Maretia Gray, 1855. Heart sea-urchins represent the largest group of irregular echinoids. There are well over 200 living species assigned to some 60 genera representative of 10 families, occurs in the Indo-West Pacific. Heart sea-urchin is capable of burrowing and living within most sediments, hence their worldwide distribution (Joe Chiold, 2013). Individual geographic ranges worldwide are illustrated in map form for 414 echinoid species. Few forms show widespread ranges, the exceptions being Metalia sternalis, Brissopsis luzonica, Brissus latecarinatus, Metalia spatangus, Maretia planulata, and Echinocardium cordatum (Joe Chiold, 2013). The East Indian Ocean harbors a rich array of heart sea-urchin forms. Thirty-five or more species occur here representing over 20 genera from seven families.

Mortensen (1951) noted that the presence of ampullae was not verified in the type species of Hemipatagus. The other two features listed by him were: 1. a more heart shaped outline with deeper frontal notch. 2. The broader, bilobed subanal fasciole in Hemipatagus. Smith (2004) noted the high similarity between Hemipatagus and Lovenia and proposed its inclusion in the Loveniidae. Apparently there are no records from Western India, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf or the Indian coast of the Arabian Peninsula. In view of this the colouration differences noted by Mortensen (1951) may be more meaningful than he considered they were. He described a whitish to yellow colouration in Indian Ocean populations, verus Malayan specimens, which are usually dark.
Spatangoids are echinoids characterized by their bilaterally summetrical corona and highly modified ambulacra forming a complex respiratory apparatus. They are well adapted to a life as burrowers and ploughers in mobile sediments, exploiting organic detritus as their prime food resource. Indeed, spatangoid phylogeny and higher-rank taxonomy has been heavily reliant on fascioles. These are narrow bands of small ciliate spines secreting mucus that consolidated the walls of their burrows and protects the respiratory tube feet from fine mud (Lawrence, 1987).
Spatangus planulatus Lamarck, 1816, p. 326
Spatangus (Maretia) perornatus Schaffer, 1912: 190-1; pl. 59, fig. 4-6
Maretia perornata, Schaffer, 1912: 596; pl. 1, fig. 5-6
M. planulata Ali, 1985: 294-295; figs 12 A-B
M. ranjitpurensis Jain, 2002: 130-132; pl. 6, figs. 11-14
M. carolinensis Kier, 1997: 11-13; fig. 6; pl. 9, figs 8-9; pl. 10, figs. 1-7; pl. 11, figs. 1-2
1 Material
Measuring 8.3 cm total length and 15 g weight (Figure 1 and 2).

Figure 1 Dorsal view – Maretia planulata

Figure 2 Ventral view – Maretia planulata

2 Locality
08º 35’ 22.5”N 78º 27’ 40.9 E off Thoothukudi coast of Gulf of Mannar, Southeast coast of India; depth at trawling 310 m.
3 Description
Maretia planulata, the frontal sinus is shallower and often indistinct 2. The labrum is much narrower and more elongated 3. The Posterior end is bluntly pointed not transversely truncated 4. Even in large specimens the primary tubercles do not develop true ampullae or strongly sunken areoles. Especially not on the oral surface 5. The plastron is much more strongly constricted between the first and second pair of episternal plates (Figure 1) 6. The outline of the test is oval, antero-posteriorly elongated, not cordiform 7. The subanal fasciole is oval and rather high instead of bilobed, very wide and low 8. The labrum and the primordial plates of the interambulacra extend much further 9. There are phyllodal pores (14-15) in ambulacra II and IV (only 6-7 in H. hoffmanni) 10. Ambulacra II and IV are only slightly constricted ambitally, whereas they are strongly constricted in H. hoffmanni.
4 Remarks
Extant species of Maretia, principally M. planulata, are currently considered to occur in two distinct Indo-Pacific marine zones. Maretia differs by possessing an extremely shallow frontal notch, the distribution of the aboral primary tubercles (primary tubercle reach the tips of the posterior pairedpetals), the lack of strongly sunken areoles or camellate aboral and oral primary tubercles, the strongly crenulate nature of the aboral primary tubercles, the lack of a conspicuous field of coarse tubercles in adapical interambulacral columns 2b and 3a, its oval ‘t’ shield-shaped subanal fasciole, the longer primordial plates of the paired interabulacra (Figure 1 and 2) which extend to the third or fourth ambulacral plates of the adjacent ambulacra in Maretia, while they do not extend the second ambulacral plate in (Hemipatagus or Lovenia), the labrum which extends to the third or fourth ambulacral plate (not extending beyond) the second ambulacral plate in Hemipatagus and Lovenia and the less constricted adoral ambulacra 2 and 3 (Figure1).
5 Distribution
Extant species of Maretia, principally M. planulata, are currently considered to occur in two distinct Indo-Pacific marine zones: From southern India and Sri Lanka, eastwards across the Indo-Malayan Archipelago, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, north and east Australia, and western Pacific Islands from Japan in the north to Fiji and New Caledonia in the south, and as far east as Hawaii. This latter species is the most widely distributed of the spatangoids; it can be found in nearly all major oceans, but it is absent from the mid-Atlantic, North Australia, and the East Indies. A little over half of the Indo-West Pacific species are endemic. This is true particularly among the families Brissidae, Spatangidae, Lovenidae and Pericosmidae. M. planulata Indonesia (Mortensen, 1951), M. planulata Papua New Guinea (Lindley, 2003), M. planulata South Sea Islands (Nisiyama, 1968), Maretia sp. New Zealand (Henderson, 1975), Agassizia aequipetala United Kingdom (Gregory, 1891).
Author’s Contribution
Vaitheeswaran Thiruvengadam have been collected and identification of specimen and took photograph of specimen and reference collection. Rajsekaran T, Managing Director of RARBIO Energies Pvt Ltd, Financial support of Marine Invertebrate Division and Marine Pharma division, Chennai, India. Balasubramani S, Director of RARBIO Energies Pvt Ltd., conceived of the study, help and support of Fishing landing centre, Chennai, India.
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