Natural Resources, 2012, 3, 11-17 Published Online March 2012 ( 11
Commercially Important Marine Mollusks for Human
Consumption in Acapulco, México
Rafael Flores-Garza1, Sergio García-Ibáñez1, Pedro Flores-Rodríguez1,
Carmina Torreblanca-Ramírez1, Lizeth Galeana-Rebolledo1, Arcadio Valdés-González2,
Arquímedes Suástegui-Zárate1, Juan Violante-González1
1Unidad Académica de Ecología Marina, Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero, Acapulco, México; 2Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas,
Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Ciudad Universitaria, San Nicolás de los Garza, México.
Received December 17th, 2011; revised January 20th, 2012; accepted January 30th, 2012
Acapulco, offers for international tourism a variety of mollusks that are delightful to the palate and a source of eco-
nomic revenue for its residents; however there are no studies on the species consumed. Furthermore, data from the State
agencies responsible for registration of these products are unclear. This work is aimed to develop an inventory of Gas-
tropoda, Bivalvia and Polyplacophora marketed as food, to gain knowledge on the species native to Acapulco and the
introduced ones. The places that sell shellfish were interviewed from 2008 to 2011 in order to determine the geographi-
cal origin of their products being offered. We identified 42 species: 15 species of gastropods are captured locally and
three are introduced. On Bivalvia, seven species are caught locally and 16 are introduced. There are Bivalvia species
caught locally; however, their capture is now unaffordable. It is likely that this situation is due to overfishing and/or the
transmission of diseases or parasites caused by the introduction of foreign liv ing organisms to Acapu lco. Within th e list
of species caught locally, there are some listed as of subject protection; all of these organisms are exploited in Acapulco
without control. The wealth of marine mollusks for human consumption in Acapulco is very high. The capture does not
satisfy local market demand and the amount of introduced species is very high. It is necessary to make a diagnostic
analysis of mollusk fishing industry in the state of Guerrero, also implement a management program, including the
sanitary measures and control of introduced species, as they arrive alive and stay alive in the waters of Acapulco. A
significant number of native species that have aquaculture potential should be studied for commercial culture practice as
well as to conduct studies on their biology on those species that are considered over-exploited and allow recovery of the
species in its habitat.
Keywords: Mollusks; Commercial; Consumption; Human; Acapulco; México
1. Introduction
The marine mollusks are very important since many of
them are used as food, they also have other uses such as
crafts making, to dye cotton, yarn and clothes, etc., so it
is that they have received special attention and become a
natural resource of economic importance.
Like any nat u r al re s our ce , t his m ust be use d an d m ana g e d
properly; otherwise it runs the risk of over exploitation
and running out. For proper administration and mana-
gement of a natural resource such as mollusks, there
must be studies to assess biodiversity, species by location,
the dynamics of populations and communities, including
aspects on reproductive cycles with which to determine
seasonal minimum sizes and catch volumes. These studies
are the technical and scientific basis with which it must
developed management plans to allow proper and sustain-
able use of these resources, and these studies should also
encourage the recovery of the species and its habitat.
Acapulco’s wide stretch of coastline offers beautiful
beaches for tourism, and provides a variety of edible ma-
rine mollusks that are a delight to the palate and a major
so urce of revenue for f ishermen and tourist serv ers. Hence,
marine mollusks have an important role in the economic
and cultural life of the municipality o f Acapulco.
For Mexico there is important literature on comer-
cially important shellfish [1-3].
The work on mollusks for Guerrero, consists on basic
studies of diversity, community structure, geographic dis-
tribution, distribution areas and associated fauna [4-12].
There is little literature on commercial species popula-
tions for the State of Guerrero [13-18] and is based on
some of the species considered as the most important, as
are clams Megapitaria aurantiaca (Sowerby, 1831), M.
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Commercially Important Marine Mollusks for Human Consumption in Acapulco, México
squalid (Sowerby, 1835) and Dosinia ponderosa (Gray,
1838), the purple snail Plicopurpura pansa (Gould, 1853)
and the sea cockroach Chiton articulat us (Sowerby , 1832).
In the case of Acapulco was not found in the literature
any report on the shellfish species commonly marketed
for huma n consumption.
On the other hand, there are government agencies re-
sponsible for monitoring and recording the products ob-
tained from the fisheries, to regulate and monitors the
introduction of fishery products coming from other states
of the country and are introduced on to the State of
Guerrero. The records of government agencies relating to
fishing and the introduction of mollusks are quite con-
fusing and inaccurate.
Based on the afore mentioned, this study was aimed to
elaborate a diagnostic analysis that includes inventorying
the species (Gastropoda, Bivalvia and Polyplacophora)
marketed for human consumption in Acapulco, Guerrero,
in addition learn on the species which are captured in
nearby and the introduced ones; as well as serving of
support to advance the construc tion of appropriate mana-
gement plans in the shellfish fishery. On the other hand,
not having control of introduced species up to now, allows
the flow of diseases and parasites arriving with them. It is
also aimed to provide information needed for the reali-
zation of the marine mollusk fisheries management plan
in the state of Guerrero.
2. Methods and Materials
Acapulco municipality is located between 16˚52' and
16˚41'N and 99˚29' and 100˚11'W. The littoral reaches 62
km in length. Acapulco’s Bahía de Santa Lucia is the
most important bay in the municipality, at the same time
it is the longest (13 km length), and its maximum width
is six km [19].
In the present work, visits were made at different
places where mollusks are sold in the municipality of
Acapulco for sampling organisms and interviewing people
in charge of captures and/or mollusks trading. Site selec-
tion was based on the quantity and variety of mollusks
that are sold and the frequency with which the site was
found giving service to the public. Also were interviewed
the fisherman that capture and sell mollusks directly to
the consumer, whom traded their sale mainly at the
beaches where they land with their capture, besides sam-
pling directly the specimens they so ld.
Samplings were made from 2008 to 2011 in 19 places
where mollusks trading occurs, lo cated at Centro, Horno s,
Playa la Angosta, Caleta, Caletilla, Pie de la Cuesta, and
Puerto Marqués (Table 1). In each site specimens were
collected that accord ing to the interv iewed fishermen and
traders were the most demanded for human consumption.
All of the sampled material were labeled and placed in-
dividually in plastic bags.
Table 1. Sites where samples of marine mollusks of com-
mercial importance for human consumption were harvested
in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico.
Zone Station Coordinates
La Noria N16˚51'14.3"
Centro Buzos II N16˚51'14.3"
Hornos El Muelle N16˚51'06.2"
Perla del Mar N16˚50'31.8"
La Angosta Candy Mar N16˚50'30.9"
El Navegante N16˚49'53.3"
La Esperanza N16˚49'53.3"
Dragón de Oro N16˚49'53.3"
Maria Bonita N16˚49'53.3"
Capullo N16˚49'53.3"
El Mariachi N16˚49'53.3"
Bambú N16˚49'53.3"
Mar Paraíso N16˚49'53.3"
Bocamar N16˚49'53.3"
Poseidón N16˚49'53.3"
La Roqueta N16˚49'53.3"
Rompe Olas N16˚49'53.3"
Caletilla La Cabaña N16˚49'55.2"
Pie de la CuestaEl Derrumbe N16˚52'09.3"
The times of visits to a sampling site were as many as
considered needed for gathering a representative sample
of organisms. A sample was considered representative
when, by visiting the site, no new information was gained
than what was recorded in previous occasions.
To establish the geographical origin of the species, an
interview was applied to current people at sampling in-
take, which consisted in four op en questions; the first one
was for knowing if the harvested species was captured in
Acapulco or if it had its origin in another place and then
introduced to the municipality. The second question was
realized only if the harvested species was introduced, and
consisted in knowing its place of origin. The third one had
the objective of knowing if th e in tro duc e d sp e ci es t hat wa s
currently being harvested, had being captured previously
in Acapulco. The fourth question was followed only if
the answer to question three was that the harvested spe-
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Commercially Important Marine Mollusks for Human Consumption in Acapulco, México 13
cies was indeed captured previously in Acapulco, and it
had the objective of knowing, under the interviewed
person’s opinion, the possible causes why that species is
not captured anymore in Acapulco. The interview and all
the collected information were recorded in a field book.
When finished harvesting, preservation of specimens
was made by placing the labeled bagged specimens in
bottles with 96% ethyl alcohol and subsequently, tran-
sported to the laboratory for their identification. Accurate
taxonomical id required a confirmation phase in labora-
tory through qualified staff and the use of specialized
literature [20-24], taxonomical actualizations were made
[25,26]. After specimens were identified, they were placed
in the malacology collection of “Unidad Académica de
Ecología Marina de la Universidad Autónoma de Guer-
3. Results
Forty-two species of marine mollusks that are comer-
cialized in Acapulco for human consumption were found,
from which, 18 were Gastropoda, 23 Bivalvia, and one
was Polyplacophora.
From the overall total, 23 are captured in Acapulco, 17
are species introduced to the municipality to be sold as
food, and two species are local captured and at the same
time are being introduced from other places of the Re-
public into the municipality for its commercialization.
For Gastropoda, 15 species are captured in Acapulco
for its commercialization and three species are intro-
duced. The best represented family was Muricidae, pre-
senting seven species from which, all seven are captured
locally (Table 2).
While on Bivalvia, seven species was captured in Aca-
pulco and 14 introduced from other regions of the country
for human consumption. Two species, Hyotissa hyotis
(Linnaeus, 1758) and Crassostrea prismatica (Gray, 1825),
were captured in Acapulco and are as well introduced to
the municipality for its trading.
The best represented families were Veneridae and Ar-
cidae, each with five species. Meanwhile on Veneridae,
all species are introduced and come from states located
on the north of the Republic; and for Arcidae, three spe-
cies are introduced and two captured locally (Table 3).
From Polyplacophora only one species was found
harvested, Chiton articulatus (Sowerby, 1832), which is
captured locally (Figure 1).
Places from where mollusks are being introduced most
frequently into Acapulco for human consumption were
Costa Chica from the State of Guerrero, and from the
states of Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora, Oaxaca,
Nayarit, and Veracruz.
The clams Chione undatella (Sowerby, 1835), Periglypta
multicocostata (Sowerby, 1835), Megapitaria squalida
(Sowerby, 1835), and M. aurantiaca (Sowerby, 1831)
were captured and commercialized in Acapulco, however,
lately the populations have decreased to a level where
there are not enoug h specimens to make it profitable and
its exploitation is unaffordable.
Pinctada mazatlanica (Hanley, 1856), Spondylus cal-
cifer Carpenter, 1757, and Plicopurpura pansa (Gould,
1853) are recorded at the statute of “Norma Oficial Mexi-
cana NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010” [27] and are under
special protection, in spite of that, these species are ex-
ploited in Acapulco for human consumption without any
control (Figure 2).
Table 2. Origin of families and species of gastropods (local
and introduced) found in Acapulco, Guerrer o, Mexico, that
were commercialized for human consumption.
Species Origin Provenance
Muricanthus radix (Gmelin, 1971) Local Acapulco
Muricanthus princeps (Broderip, 1833) Local Acapulco
Chicoreus (P.) erythrostomus
(Swainson, 1831) Local Acapulco
Chicoreus (P.) regius (Swainson, 1831) Local Acapulco
Neoropana muricata (Broderip, 1832) Local Acapulco
Mancinella speciosa (Valenciennes, 1832) Local Acapulco
Plicopurpura pansa (Gould, 1853 ) Local Acapulco
Opeatostoma pseudod on (Burrow, 1815) Local Acapulco
Fasciolaria (P.) princeps Sowerby, 1825 Introduced Costa Chica,
Guerrero and
Leucozonia cerata (Wood, 1828) Local Acapulco
Strombus (T.) galeatus Swainson, 1823 Introduced Costa Chica,
Guerrero and
Strombus peruvianus Swainson, 1823 Introduced Costa Chica,
Guerrero and
Strombus (S.) gracilior Sowerby, 1825 Local Acapulco
Vasum caestus (Broderip, 1833 ) Local Acapulco
Crucibulum scutellatum (Wood, 1828) Local Acapulco
Crucibulum umbrella (Deshayes, 1830) Local Acapulco
Melongena corona (Gmelin, 1791) Local Acapulco
Fissurella (C.) gemmata Menke, 1847 Local Acapulco
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Commercially Important Marine Mollusks for Human Consumption in Acapulco, México
Table 3. Origin of families and species of Bivalvia and Poly-
placophora (local and introduced) found in Acapulco,
Guerrero, Mexico, that were commercialized for human
Species Origin Provenance
Megapitaria aurantiaca
(Sowerby, 1831 ) Introduced La Paz BCS,
Sinaloa, Sonora
Megapitaria squalida
(Sowerby, 1831 ) Introduced La Paz BCS,
Chione undatella
(Sowerby, 1835 ) Introduced Baja California
Sur, Sinaloa
Periglypta multicostata
(Sowerby, 1835 ) Introduced La Paz BCS,
Chione californiensis
(Broderip, 18 35) Introduced Baja California Sur
Anadara (R.) formosa
(Sowerby, 1833 ) Local Acapulco
Anadara (L.) grandis
(Broderip & Sowerby, 1829) Introduced Sinaloa, Nayarit &
Baja California Sur
Anadara (L.) multicostata
(Sowerby, 1833 ) Introduced Baja California Sur
Anadara (A.) tuberculosa
(Sowerby, 1833 ) Introduced Baja California Sur
Barbatia reeveana (Linnaeus, 1758)Local Acapulco
Argopecten circularis
(Sowerby, 1835 ) Introduced Baja California Sur
Nodipecten subnodosus
(Sowerby, 1835 ) Introduced Baja California Sur
Pinna rugosa Sowerby, 1835 Local Acapulco
Pinctada mazatlanica (H a n l e y , 18 5 6 ) L ocal Acapulco
Chama (C.) c oralloi des ( O l s o n , 1 9 7 1 ) Local Acapulco
Chama (C.) mexicana
Carpenter, 1857
Crassostrea gigas Thunberg 179 3 Introduced Sonora and Veracruz
Crassostrea prismatica (Gray, 1825)Local and
Costa Chica de
Guerrero &
Crassostrea virginica
(Gmelin, 1791) Introduced Veracruz
Modiolus capax (Conrad, 1837) Introduced Veracruz
Spondylus calcifer Carpenter, 1757 Local Acapulco
Hyotissa hyotis (Linnaeus, 1758) Local and
Introduced Acapulco
Gary (G.) maxima (Deshayes, 1855)Local Acapulco
Chiton articulat us (Sowerby, 1832) Loc al Acapulco
Figure 1. Percentage of species Gastropeda and Bivalvia
that are captured locally and the introduced ones for hu-
man consumption in Acapulco, Gue rrer o.
4. Discussion and Conclusion
Species richness of marine mollusks for human con-
sumption found in Acapulco is very high, in order to the
grand existing demand of these species, above all being
Acapulco a national and internationally touristic harbor
of such importance where part of the attraction services are
its beautiful beaches and the rich variety on its cuisine of
dishes made basically out of mollusks and seafood i tem s.
The amount of introduced species for its commer-
cialization for human consumption is very high and
represents 40.47% from total of species found in this
present research.
Introduced species is something that would be ex-
pected to be found in a study of this matter, given that
mollusks demand by tourists and by its local inhabitants
is very high, and local capture could not satisfy market
To satisfy this demand in Acapulco, the mollusks
fishery in the municipality is artisanal and mainly for
auto-consumption, local trading in restaurants, for direct
sale from fisherman to consumers and in some cases to
the market; it is based on the exploitation of natural
banks; it is a riparian and a rustic activity. All the afore-
mentioned reduces significantly the possibility for incre-
ment on the production.
On the other hand, there are no aquaculture units that
produce mollusks in the municipality, whereby attempts
for satisfaction of the local market demand, drives to the
introduction of species collected abroad.
Most of species that are fished in Ac apulco for human
consumption belong to class Gastro poda, and most of the
species introduced to Acapulco for its commercialization
are from class Bivalvia. Within Gastropoda, family
Muricidae is the best represented and all species are
captured locally. In class Bivalvia two families were the
best represented, both with five species each. From the
10 species that represent both families, only two are
fished in Acapulco for human consumption, Anadara
formosa (Sowerby, 1833) and Barbatia reeveana (Linnaeus,
1758). There are species of Bivalvia that were used to be
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. NR
Commercially Important Marine Mollusks for Human Consumption in Acapulco, México
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. NR
Pictures collection of marine invertebrates. Unided Académica de Ecologia Marina. Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero
(a) Maninella speciosa; (b) Plicopurpura pansa; (c) Leucozonia cerata; (d) Opeatostoma pseudodon; (e) Chicoreus erythrostomus; (f) Muricant hus princeps ; ( g )
Muricanthus radix; (h) Chicoreus regius; (i) Neoropanna muricata; (j) Vasum caestus; (k) Strombus gracilior; (l) Melongena corona; (m) Crucibulum
scutellatum; (n) Crucibulum umbrella; (o) Fissurella gemmata; (p) Anadara formosa; (q) Barbatia reeveana; (r) Gary maxima; (s) Pinctada mazatlanica; (t)
Chama cor alloides; (u) Chama mexicana; (v) Crassostrea primatica; (w) Pinna rugosa; (x) Chiton ar tic ul at us.
Figure 2. Local species of Gastropoda, Bivalvia and Polyplacophora found in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico, that were
commercialized for human consumption.
captured locally for its market; nonetheless nowadays its
capture is unaffordable given its population scarcity. It is
worth to mentioned that in both fisherman’s and mo-
llusks merchant’s interviews, all agreed that clams Mega-
pitaria aurantica, M. squalida, Periglypta multicostata,
and Chione undatella were previously fished in riparian
waters of Acapulco’s municipality, but currently their
population has been reduced to such grade that it is not
possible to capture them for commercial matters.
A hypothesis about population diminishment is overex-
ploitation of these species, but this is not possible to
confirm because of the inconsistencies on the data that
governmental departments are responsible of recording
from the mollusks fisheries on the State of Guerrero.
Moreover it is known that, at least for 20 years given
that high tourism seasons arriving to the harbor in great
quantities for holidays, and thus local capture could not
satisfy market demand, clams have been introduced
coming from several states located north of the Republic.
This clam introduction has been since that day until
today and it has been occurring without neither regard
nor health control. The issue of clam introduction sharpens
above all because they arrive alive into Acapulco and to
keep them alive they are placed on the seabed of shallow
places in cages or sacs, these places are near the place
where mollusks are commercialized. Hence, the possi-
Commercially Important Marine Mollusks for Human Consumption in Acapulco, México
bility is that there could have been a transmission of
parasites or diseases that had caused or enhanced mor-
tality over native population beside the overexploitation
On the other hand, the information records about mo-
llusks sale in governmental agencies is confusing or
lacking, thus it is in great needed to make a fishery
diagnosis of marine mollusks in the State of Guerrero,
besides establishing control over introduced species and
develop adequate management program and strategies
for marine mollusks fisheries of commercial importance
populations, this management should include record of
the species that are introduced and their amounts, origin,
and health control given that they arrive alive and are
kept alive in Acapulco´s marine waters.
We are in accordance with Ríos-Jara et al. (2008) that
an important quantity of species such as the clam Ana-
dara (L.) grandis (Broderip and Sowerby, 1829), the oyster
Crassostre a prismat ic a (Gray, 1825), the Spondilus cal ci f er
and the gastropods of the genera Muricanthus and Chico-
reus, that are native species have an important aqua-
culture potential and are considered species with com-
mercial culturing potential.
These species and others that are native should be
studied for their commercial culture potential, thus it is
important to recommend the start of pilot crops where
tested technology is applied to similar or same species.
It is important to remark the necessity for imple-
menting several programs by the municipality of Acapulco
in relation to mollusks of commercial importance for
human consumption, among them the studies of fisheries
biology for those species that are considered to be overly
exploited, and on the issue of efficient on obtaining and
ordering data to consolidate fisheries management schemes,
beside those skemes and strategies that will allow the
species recovery in their habitats and to conduct self
sustainable fisheries.
Some species in the statute and bylaws of the “Norma
Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010 (Pro-
tección ambiental—Especies nativas de México de flora
y fauna silvestres—Categorías de riesgo y especificaciones
para su inclusión, exclusión o cambio—Lista de especies
en riesgo)” are recorded as protected species, and are
commercialized in Acapulco for human consumption
with no control or guarding, for what was observed in the
harbor during the time of this project was conducted.
5. Acknowledgements
We thank the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero for the
support and partial funding of this stu dy and the research
projects. The current state of the marine mollusc fishery,
economic analysis of catches and socio-economic deve-
lopment of the SCPP on the coast of the Municipality of
Acapulco, Guerrero.
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