A new sea cockroach species has been discovered in the Andaman Sea by Dr. Eknarin Rodcharoen, a researcher from the Department of Aquatic Science, Faculty of Natural Resources, Prince of Songkla University, together with Dr. Niel Bruce from Australia and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pornsilp Pholpunthin from the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University. The new species is considered to be an indicator of its marine ecosystem and an important link in its food chain.
Sea cockroaches are 0.5-2.0 cm long crustaceans living on the sea floor and feeding at night. They can be found anywhere from tidal zones to the deep sea. However, they cannot live in areas where water pollution occurs; hence their presence is considered to be an indicator of water quality. In addition, sea cockroaches play an important role in marine ecosystems both as a key component of their food chain and as decomposers of dead marine organisms.
The new sea cockroach species can be found along the Andaman coast of Thailand; however since it was discovered in Phuket, it was named Cirolana phuketensis. The detailed findings were published in the international journal ZooKeys.
Although Southeast Asia in general and Thailand in particular are considered rich in biodiversity, the taxonomy and diversity of marine crustaceans have received relatively little attention in the region. This has been slowly chancing in the last five years since the researchers have begun their study, and new sea cockroach species have been continually reported in Thailand. The discovery of this organism provides researchers a new, effective tool to reliably assess the marine biodiversity of Thailand’s waters in order to better describe and monitor changes in biological habitats and geography of the Indo-Pacific region.