St. Lawrence species

Orange-footed sea cucumber

Cucumaria frondosa

Type of resource

  • Seafood
  • Seafood - echinoderm

Culinary name


Status of the resource

  • Not a cause for concern

In season

Available year round.

SIZE : Up to 50 cm in length and 13 cm in diameter.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Estimated to last more than 8 years. The absence of solid parts in the orange-footed sea cucumber makes it difficult to determine its age and longevity.

LIFE CYCLE : Estimated to last more than 8 years. The absence of solid parts in the orange-footed sea cucumber makes it difficult to determine its age and longevity.

The orange-footed sea cucumber has a cylindrical shape. Its color can range from brown to greenish, mauve, or orange-red. Its skin is tough and varies in rigidity. It has 10 retractable tentacles to which plankton will stick. It then inserts them into its mouth to lick them and feed. The sea cucumber has an anus through which it breathes. Teeth protect this orifice. When it senses danger, it uses this orifice to expel its intestines. Its body has small feet, called podia (in the singular, podium), which it uses for locomotion. Also known as ambulacral, or tube feet, they are distributed in 5 longitudinal rows.

Coastal zone, 20 m to 500 m in depth.

Credit : Richard Larocque, photo taken in photo Grandes Bergeronnes.





Blood stars

To feed itself, sea cucumbers have 10 tentacles that it brings inside its mouth.
Credit : Richard Larocque, photo taken in Les Méchins.

MACHINES : Dredging, hand-harvesting by diving.


  • Minimum legal size: 11.4 cm
  • Fishing season and limited number of fishing days per year
  • One permit per fishing zone

Exploratory fishing in Quebec started in 2008 with possible plans for commercial fishing. More data on the life cycle and state of the orange-footed sea cucumber stocks is needed before commercial fishing can be authorized. However, cautious harvesting will be required. It has been observed that sea cucumbers have difficulty recovering from over-harvesting.
At present, the main market for sea cucumbers is in Asia.

Rich in non-fat protein, minerals, and vitamins A, B, D and E. Low in calories and lipids.
Sea cucumber is believed to have beneficial effects on tendinitis. In China, it is known as sea ginseng and has been used medicinally for centuries.

Firm, gelatinous texture. Mild flavour.

Sold dried or frozen.

Before being prepared, sea cucumbers need to be re-hydrated for 2 or 3 days. Patience and organization are needed to enjoy this delicacy.


  • In soups, stir-fries, or marinades, add the cucumber at the end of the preparation. It will disintegrate if overcooked.
  • Since 2023, “pop-combres” (pop-corn cucumbers) have been sold on the Quebec market. They’re the perfect snack for a nice evening around the campfire.

Hoping to enjoy a nice evening?

Although it doesn’t look like it, sea cucumbers are said to have aphrodisiac properties. A good reason to try them?