WCMB 2023: PeerJ Poster Award Winners

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Award Winner Interviews, Awards, Community, Conferences, Societies


The 6th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB 2023) was successfully held on the beautiful island of Penang in Malaysia on the 2nd to 5th of July 2023. The conference brought together a total of 400 leading scientists, policymakers, conservationists, early career ocean professionals and other stake holders from 50 countries across the globe, making this one of the largest gatherings since the inception of the WCMB series….Read the full WCMB 2023 round up blog here.

Prof. Dr. Aileen Tan (WCMB Chair) and Dr Abe Woo (WCMB Co-chair)


Izzat Irfan PhD-candidate at Universiti Sains Malaysia. 

Sacoproteus smaragdinus

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

My name is Muhammad Izzat Irfan Bin Rozlin Hisham, but just call me Izzat. I am a postgraduate candidate and a science officer at the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). This all thanks to my colleagues and lecturers who have been supporting me in all aspects, especially my supervisor, Dr. Abe Woo Sau Pinn, my co-supervisor, Dr. Annette Jaya Ram, and the director of CEMACS, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Aileen Tan Shau Hwai for the position.

I have always been curious to know all the things surrounding me. Name of the animal, its diet, ecological role, unique characteristics, why is this, why is that and so on. I am interested in biology; hence I never regret diving into Marine Science courses during my undergraduate. I am interested in reef ecology and its creatures such as corals and sea slugs. Next, I am also into aquaculture, particularly for sea cucumber and seaweed.

What first interested you in this field of research?

I had the opportunity to work on a coral restoration project in Langkawi, Malaysia for 4 years. I started to explore more of the coral reef area and wanted to know the general biology of all the things I found, eventually, my interest expands into the entomology field. I am also an enthusiast of macro photography, hence combining with my field of interests, I had an ambition to come out with a checklist guidebook for reef creatures and insects I found, just so that people can notice them, learn about them, and appreciate them more apart to showcase our biodiversity here. But, Langkawi also taught me that our local sea cucumber, gamat (Stichopus horrens), has declined greatly. Having known the people there, working with the animal and having seen how valuable the gamat itself is, I think it would be a shame if we do nothing and lose this species. So, in CEMACS, we are conducting research such as feeding behaviour, spawning techniques and physiology study for aquaculture purposes of this animal.

S. smaragdinus with mucus ball

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at WCMB 2023?

For WCMB 2023, I presented one of my side experiments – the behaviour of the sacoglossa sea slug. Initially, I was studying sea grapes (Caulerpa lentillifera) aquaculture and while doing it, I found many creatures associated with the seaweed. As I have always been curious about the creature I found, I started to give more attention to some of the creatures – sacoglossan sea slugs. There are three species found in my growing seaweed (namely they are Sacoproteus smaragdinus, Sacoproteus nishae and Berthelinia singaporensis), and I started doing some feeding observations on them. That was when I saw Sacoproteus smaragdinus doing an interesting behaviour – making a mucus ball! I quickly grab my camera and tried to document those moments. Hence, “Marine Fauna Associated to the Seaweed Caulerpa lentillifera and Mucus Ball Production Behaviour by Sacoglossa Sea Slug, Sacoproteus smaragdinus” was produced.

What are you next steps?

As I am focusing on aquaculture, I would like to explore more into the biological control of the sacoglossan to minimise the damage they caused to the cultured seaweed. We are also interested in looking at the integrated system for Caulerpa lentillifera with Stichopus horrens for an indoor aquaculture recirculating system as it seems to be able to boost profitability. On the other hand, I personally would love to go deeper with the sacoglossa behaviour study, especially with mucus production and feeding mechanisms.


Krupal J. Patel PhD-candidate at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

Currently I am a PhD student working on the Ecology of a hermit crab species Clibanarius rhabdodactylus Forest, 1953 on the coastal region of Gujarat. Along with my PhD research work, I am also working on the taxonomy and ecology of various other crustacean groups including Brachyuran crabs, Anomuran crabs, Barnacles, etc.

What first interested you in this field of research?

Since my childhood I was fascinated by the animals and that made me wanted to know about them even more and understand them closely. During my college days, I developed an interest in marine organisms on a study tour to the coastal regions. I saw various marine organisms all different in their form and functions. Since then, I developed great interest in marine organisms especially in the variation of their body form as well as their interaction with other biotic and abiotic components. After completing my Masters, I decided to pursue PhD on marine ecology/ecosystem and I’m lucky enough that I got to work under my research guide, Dr. Kauresh Vachhrajani and my mentor and collaborator, Dr. Jigneshkumar Trivedi. Both having significant contribution in the marine field of India. And just like that, day after day, I’m getting even more infatuated knowing and working in this field.

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at WCMB 2023?

I have presented a poster on the population structure of Clibanarius rhabdodactylus Forest 1953 which is a commonly occurring hermit crab species on Gujarat coast. Since India being tropical country experiences three seasons: summer, winter and monsoon, the study presented the monthly composition of male, non-ovigerous female, and ovigerous female individuals and their variation year-round in different seasons. The study also showed the effect of temperature on the population dynamics including the abundance of ovigerous females and juveniles during different months. And lastly, morphological parameters of eggs i.e. egg mass weight, total number of eggs and egg size was correlated with the morphology of ovigerous females which was significant.

How will you continue to build on this research?

Since I am interested in Crustaceans taxonomy and ecology, I would like to carry forward this work in future. India being a tropical country, having a very long coastline, possesses rich diversity of marine organisms and habitats. Hence, there is enormous work on the crustacean taxonomy and ecology, still untouched and required. Through my research, I hope to provide valuable and new insights into the diversity and importance of crustaceans in coastal ecosystems, which can aid in their conservation and better management.



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