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pling thalae (ปลิงทะเล)

Thai for ‘sea cucumber’, a marine animal with an elongated body, that is related to the sea urchin, lives on the sea floor, and belongs to the class Holothuroidea. There several species and genera, many of which are harvested for human consumption, an economically important activity in Southeast Asia. A species commonly used in cuisine, and thus in aquaculture production, is the so-called sandfish, a species of sea cucumber with the binomial name Holothuria scabra and nicknamed Garlic Bread Sea Cucumber after its loaf-like appearance (fig.). In Thai, it is known as pling thalae khao (ปลิงทะเลขาว), literally ‘white sea cucumber’, often abbreviated to just pling khao (ปลิงขาว). Sea cucumbers are believed to posses anti-cancer properties, and are widely used in Oriental cuisine for their healing qualities, especially as an ingredient in certain Chinese dishes, and usually referred to by the French term bęche-de-mer. In traditional Chinese medicine they are also found in dried form, and are also used as an aphrodisiac. In the water, it shrinks and stretches in size as it moves about over the sea bed. However, if it moves along with the tides and wanders too close to shore, it might become trapped on the beach (fig.) once the ebb sets in, where it is at mortal risk of becoming dehydrated.