‘Aphrodisiac’ of the ocean: how sea cucumbers became gold for organised crime
Overfishing and smuggling of this crucial animal are affecting biodiversity and the livelihood of local fishers in Sri Lanka
It’s after sunset in Jaffna when Anthony Vigrado dives into the waters of Palk Bay, scanning the seafloor to collect what seems to be prized treasure. What he comes back with are sea cucumbers – long, leathery-skinned creatures that are increasingly valuable and the source of his income for the past 12 years.
But after a 10-hour search, his harvest is only a fraction of what it used to be, as the shores of northern Sri Lanka and southern India have become a prime spot for exploitation.