North Island Explorer: Guide to North Vancouver Island



California Sea Cucumber




































Giant California Sea Cucumber

Photo 1: A California Sea Cucumber


California Sea Cucumber: Parastichopus californicus

Common Names: Giant Sea Cucumber, Giant Red Sea Cucumber

Though it is possible to find this sea cucumber in the intertidal zone, it is usually found subtidally. Growing as much as 60 cm, this sea cucmber is the largest in the world.


Like other sea cucumbers, it has radial five-sided symmetry with five rows of tube feet running down the length of it. It also has tens tentacles that it uses to sift the sediment for plankton and other organic matter. They can travel at a rate of about 4m per day. These sea cucumbers have the amazing ability to expel all of their organs when threatened and then regenerate them anew.


Since 1971, California Sea Cucumbers have been an important commercial catch, especially for Asian markets. The fishery consists of divers hand picking the sea cucumbers off of the ocean floor. The harvest runs for several weeks during the fall.


Like other fisheries, there have been problems and concerns about overfishing as some localalized areas have seen depletion of stocks. Currently, the fishery is managed with quotas and liscenses, verification of catches, and closure of over 50% of the coast to the sea cucumber fishery.


Recreational tidal water fishing licenses allow for a catch of 12 sea cucumbers per day.




References: Department of Fisheries Pamphlet on the Sea Cucumber Fishery.



 Marine Life Guide to North Vancouver Island