Physical Description

  • Long tubular body covered in large, stiff, conical papillae, or pseudo-spines, on body. Usually lighter in color than body.
  • Body is dark red, brown, or yellow in coloration.
  • Dense arrangement of tube feet on bottom.
  • Adults reach 10 to 16 inches in length.


  • From western Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea to Baja California, Mexico.


  • Prefer exposed and sheltered areas protected from strong waves.
  • Often found on gravel and shell debris.
  • Live from the low intertidal zone to 300 feet deep.


  • Giant sea cucumbers become mature at 4-8 years old.
  • Giant sea cucumbers reproduce by broadcast spawning.
  • The broadcast spawning events are thought to coincide with phytoplankton blooms and occurs in the summer.
  • Larvae are free-swimming in the open water before settling to the bottom.


  • Feeds on organic detritus and small organisms, mixed with bottom sediments.
  • They are known to eat and breath with both their mouth and their anus.


  • Sunflower stars, purple sun stars, sea stars, sea otters, humans.

Interesting Facts

  • They are the largest sea cucumber on the Pacific Northwest coast..
  • The giant sea cucumbers in Puget Sound are known to lose and regrow nearly all of their internal organs every fall!
  • They can eviscerate, or spit out, all of their organs as a defense mechanism.
  • In Asia, giant sea cucumbers are considered a delicacy. 

Sources: Walla Walla University; National Geographic; California Sea Grant

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen