The vigilance squad of the Forest Department on Monday caught two persons red-handed and recovered 400 sea fans from them.
Sea fan is a variety of soft coral. This marine species is under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act and offences under this attract the highest penalty.
Parameshwar and Somashekhar were caught in Hubballi while transporting the sea fans to a customer in Ballari. The accused told the officials that they had procured the consignment from a contact in Hubballi.
The coral, locally called ‘Indra Jala’, is in great demand and fetches good price in the market as people hang them on walls for luck, said a senior police officer. They are also available on sale online.
“We suspect this trade has inter-state ramifications, coming from Mumbai and Goa through Hubballi,” said Seema Garg, official of the Forest Department.