Tracking the devastating sea cucumber fishery

Written by Ilima Loomis | Published 03/31/2016 | Posted in


Soft, slimy, and wrinkled, they looked like a heap of waterlogged, disembodied phalluses.

The photographs, snapped by bystanders in the spring of 2015, showed sea cucumbers being hauled away from Hawai‘i’s beaches by the truckload. The animals slid over one another in a pool of mucus. As the images began spiraling through social media channels, locals reacted with surprise and dismay. Sea cucumbers had slunk peacefully along the seafloor for generations, largely ignored and unnoticed, so why were they suddenly under siege, plucked by the thousands from Hawai‘i’s nearshore waters? What would happen to the reefs without them? And where were they all going?

Read the rest of my feature story for Hakai magazine here.