7 Aug 2019 - BBC - In much of the Far East, sea cucumbers are a delicacy, fetching a high price for their purported health benefits. In Tampolove, a tiny windswept village of mud huts and sandy paths squeezed between the coast and the forest in south-west Madagascar, they have provided a major boost to the local economy and environment.
The village is home to the country's first locally owned sea-cucumber farm, which has been transforming the lives of people who have typically earned no more than a dollar a day, while at the same time helping to alleviate the pressure on marine species.
Sea cucumbers belong to the echinoderm family, along with starfish and urchins, and come in all shapes and sizes.
They spend their days buried in silt, emerging at night to feed, sifting through the sediment for particles, a practice that provides an essential filtration service that benefits the wider ecosystem.
Yet in recent decades rampant overfishing to feed demand in Asia has left wild sea-cucumber stocks declining around the world.
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