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Sea Cucumber - Sand Fish (Holothuria scabra) Photographs and Information

Sea Cucumbers or Beche-De-Mer are cylindrical, elongated or worm-like shape. They are found in a variety of colours ranging from pitch black to white and light yellow, and are generally designed to blend in with their habitat.

Shape: The body is oval and stout with flattened ends; H. scabra has prominent wrinkles on its upper surface and is generally smaller and lighter that the versicolor variety.

Colour: H. scarbra has a grey to greenish upper surface with many fine black spots, and a creamy lower surface.  The versicolor variety is more variable in colour, ranging from beige (uniform or with black spots) to uniform black.

Habitat: Present in large numbers in habitats under terrigenous influence.  H. scabra is often found on inner reef flats and near estuaries, and its density may reach several hundred individuals per hectare.  The versicolor variety prefers deeper waters of bays or lagoons.  Its average density is about 100 animals per hectare.  They often spend part of the day buried in the silty sand.

Value: This species is in great demand and fetches high prices.


Processed Sandfish

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Scientific Name Holothuria scabra
Size Length:  25-45 cm

About Sandfish Sea Cucumber:

Grading Beche-De-Mer or Sea Cucumber

External and Internal Features of Sea Cucumbers

Exporters, Importers & Processors, Wholesale & Agents of Sea Cucumber, Beche-de-mer  - Worldwide Trade Seafood Industry Directory of companies and contacts who are Exporters, Importers & Processors, Wholesale & Agents of Sea Cucumber


Commercial Fishing for Sea-Cucumber | Beche-de-Mer | Trepang

Trepang fisheries in northern Australia date back to at least the 1700s, when Macassans from Celebes (Sulawesi Island group, Indonesia) visited northern Australia to fish for these species. The term trepang refers to the dried body wall of holothurian sea cucumbers, whereas the term bÍche-de-mer refers to the cooked body wall.

The principal target species in this fishery is sandfish (Holothuria scabra). It prefers coastal areas with soft sediment substrate and is often found in beds of seagrass, which plays an important role in triggering larval settlement. In late 2007, the fishery was re-assessed against the Australian Governmentís Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. As a result, the fishery received certification as an accredited Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The assessment demonstrated that the fishery was managed in a manner that does not lead to over-fishing, and that fishing operations have minimal impact on the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem. The fishery is currently undergoing reassessment.


The fishery operates in waters to 3 nautical miles (nm) seaward of baselines (i.e. the NT coastline and surrounding islands). Most of the effort occurs along the Arnhem Land coast, the major harvest areas being around Cobourg Peninsula and Groote Eylandt.

Fishing Method

Sandfish is the most important species for tropical sea cucumber fisheries. It is one of the few tropical sea cucumber species that prefer coastal areas to coral reefs. Harvesting of sandfish usually takes place by walking at low tide and diving in shallow coastal bays and foreshores. Snorkel, scuba and hookah may be used when diving for trepang. Collection is generally limited to neap tides and the dry season when visibility in water improves and cyclone activity is minimal.


The total harvest of trepang was low during most of the 1990s before peaking at 333 tonnes in 2000. Since 2000, the harvest has varied, largely in response to fishing effort. Total harvest reported for 2010 was 22.2 tonnes, which is a decline from the 64.6 tonnes harvested in 2009. The 2010 catch is less than a tenth of the annual average catch (235 tonnes) between 1998 and 2007.

No byproduct species were harvested in 2010 owing to the hand-collecting method of harvesting.




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