, Volume 549, Issue 1, pp 57–64 | Cite as

Testing for the Effects of Seasonal and Lunar Periodicity on the Reproduction of the Edible Sea Urchin Tripneustes gratilla (L) in Kenyan Coral Reef Lagoons

  • Nyawira A. MuthigaEmail author
Primary Research Paper


The annual and lunar reproductive cycle of the widely distributed edible sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla (L) was examined through measurements of gonad index, histological examination of gametogenesis, and induction of spawning with KCl injections. The population density and morphological characteristics of urchins at Diani, Kanamai, and Vipingo reef lagoons were also studied as well as the effects of seawater temperature and light on reproduction. Gonad growth started early during the northeast monsoon and reached a peak in June at the beginning of the southeast monsoon followed by a sharp decrease in gonad size of 50% in July and August towards the end of the southeast monsoons. Histological examination of gonads, revealed many different stages of gametogenesis with gametes present throughout the year, indicating continuous reproduction. There was a significant relationship between gonad index and lunar day with spawning occurring between lunar day 7 and 21, but spawning was not in perfect synchrony in the population. The population density of urchins at each reef is variable from year to year and was highest on average at Vipingo. Urchins at Kanamai had the lowest gonad indices, the largest jaws and smallest individuals an indication of food limitation. The gonads (roe) of T. gratilla at all three sites, were perpetually ‘runny’ an attribute that is not suitable for urchin fisheries. Studies to develop techniques to improve roe quality are recommended.


continuous reproduction coral reef lagoons Kenyan coast lunar periodicity Tripneustes gratilla 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine ProgramsNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.WCSMombasaKenya

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