Sea cucumbers are echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea. They are marine animals with a leathery skin and an elongated body containing a single, branched gonad. Sea cucumbers are found on the sea floor worldwide. Many of these are gathered for human consumption and some species are cultivated in aquaculture systems. Sea cucumbers serve a useful role in the marine ecosystem as they help recycle nutrients, breaking down detritus and other organic matter after which bacteria can continue the degradation process.
The Giant Red is the largest and the only commercially harvested of the approximately 30 species on the west coast. Adults are red or dark brown in colour with average commercial length of 30-40 cm (12-16 inches). The dive fishery for sea cucumbers is primarily in northern and central areas of the British Columbia (BC) coast.Sea cucumbers are split and dried and are highly valued in Asian cooking. Marketable products from commercially harvested sea cucumbers include fresh and frozen muscle strips, and dried skin. Dried skin is the more valuable product.