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. There are a number of holothurian species and genera, many of which are targeted for human consumption. The harvested product is variously referred to as trepang, bêche-de-mer or balate.
Food features:Sea cucumbers are typically 10 to 30 centimetres (3.9 to 12 in) in length, although the smallest known species is just 3 millimetres (0.12 in) long, and the largest can reach 1 metre (3.3 ft). The body ranges from almost spherical to worm-like, and lacks the arms found in many other echinoderms, such as starfishes. The anterior end of the animal, containing the mouth, corresponds to the oral pole of other echinoderms (which, in most cases, is the underside), while the posterior end, containing the anus, corresponds to the aboral pole. Thus, compared with other echinoderms, sea cucumbers can be said to be lying on their side.
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Nutrition:Wild sea cucumbers are caught by divers and these wild Alaskan sea cucumbers have higher nutritional value and are larger than farmed Chinese sea cucumbers.
Dietotherapy function:There are many commercially important species of sea cucumber that are harvested and dried for export for use in Chinese cuisine as Hoi sam.