Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sea tulips



I saw these sea tulips which were washed ashore when I went beachcombing at North Beach last Christmas.

These animals look just like plants. Like plants, adult sea tulips are not mobile. They are attached to the reef by a root-like structure at the end of their long stalks. They look pretty nice when they move about in the current. They belong to the group of animals called 'sea squirts' and can squirt a jet of water to fend off enemies. But I haven't had the luck to see them in action yet.

So far all the live sea tulips I saw at Cotteslow and the Marmion Marine Park were all solitary individuals. They were all dark-red like the ones in the photo. The colour comes from some encrusting sponge.

I saw an underwater, live sea tulip for the first time when I went snorkeling at Cottesloe last year. I saw some stinger jellyfish or look-alikes too, so I never returned since.

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