Aquaculture Canada and WAS North America 2022

August 15 - 18, 2022

St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada


Rachel Morrison, Jean-François Hamel, Jiamin Sun, Annie Mercier


Extensive research has been conducted on various species of holothuroid (sea cucumber) around the world due to their ecological roles and high economic value as a food product. However, the focus has been on temperate and tropical populations, leaving those located at higher latitudes, such as in the Canadian Arctic, understudied. In specific, the biochemical composition of a species, which can be utilized to understand the value an organism has for human health, is partly determined by the prevailing environmental conditions, which vary latitudinally. Here, various biochemical metrics of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa, collected in the Arctic (Nunavut), were assessed and compared to those currently harvested in the Northwest Atlantic (Newfoundland and Labrador). Metrics included, proximate composition, lipids and fatty acids, amino acids, lipid-soluble vitamins, and astaxanthin. As anticipated, the biochemical profiles of the two sampled populations differed substantially. Nunavut-caught sea cucumbers had similar ash and moisture content, but approximately 50% and 17% less total lipids and proteins respectively than Newfoundland sea cucumbers. Nonetheless, the composition and concentration of the different fatty acids present in Nunavut samples highlighted greater proportions of essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA.  Nunavut samples also had twice as much proline and vitamin A in their muscle bands and strikingly more astaxanthin specifically in female individuals. Understanding biochemical variability across latitudes is of economic and ecological significance, particularly in the face of climate-related shifts. From an applied perspective, data on the nutritional value of Arctic sea cucumbers can help enhance food security through the development of traditional and commercial fisheries in northern communities.