Unfortunately, sea cucumbers are also a delicacy in some Asian cultures. Taken out of the water, they are gutted, packed with salt, boiled, dried again, and then sent to markets in Hong Kong and Singapore. The bioactive compounds produced by sea cucumbers have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of ailments, such as arthritis and cancer.
I am a consultant for projects to grow sea cucumbers for the lucrative Chinese market. That's why I've studied them for many years and find them fascinating. The Nature Conservancy is working with communities in Papua New Guinea to establish sustainable management of their sea cucumber fisheries, in the hope of protecting these creatures and ensuring stable incomes for rural communities.
Sea cucumbers may not be the most appetizing creatures, but they are essential for maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem. We must do our part to ensure that these creatures are protected and their populations remain stable.