noun (plural same or bêches-de-mer pronounced same)
1A large sea cucumber that is eaten as a delicacy in China and Japan. Also called trepang.
- They made seasonal visits to northern Australia, probably from the late seventeenth century, to collect trepang (also known as bêche-de-mer, sea slug, or sea cucumber - reputedly an aphrodisiac), which they traded with the Chinese.
- Sea cucumbers that are harvested, cooked, and dried for consumption are known as bêche-de-mer.
- Fishing for bêche-de-mer in Torres Strait is mainly by free diving from dinghies crewed by 2-3 fishers or by hand collection along reefs at low tide.
Late 18th century: pseudo-French, alteration of Portuguese bicho do mar, literally 'sea worm'.
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