It looks like snot but it’s not!

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Sea squirts on an old lobster pot

I thought I would share these photographs with you. People usually like pretty photo-shopped pictures and these are a bit gross, not very attractive….. but interesting none the less. They look like snot but they are not. Most of these glistening gelatinous masses, the ones with the patterns (whether they are green, yellow or white) are Ascidians from the family Styelidae called Star Sea Squirts (I think two species are represented: Botryllus schlosseri and Botrylloides. leachii). I found them along with other sea squirt species which I am unable to identify on a quayside lobster pot. This marine invertebrate species is a primitive chordate and therefore related to us Homo sapiens.

Sea squirts on an old lobster pot

Sea squirts on an old lobster pot

Sea squirts on an old lobster pot

Sea squirts on an old lobster pot

Sea squirts on an old lobster pot

15 Replies to “It looks like snot but it’s not!”

  1. You have the true naturalist’s eye which sees beauty in many places. I think they are fascinating and I have seen them in other locations where they present themselves in a much more aestheticly pleasing way.

  2. I think they are fairly common but you have to know they exist so that you can keep your eye open for them. I have most frequently seen them attached to seaweed that has washed up onto the strand line.

  3. I see many fascinating thing on you blog! I can’t say that I like the look of them, but beyond the dangling jelly sacs what amazing detail. They look like venetian murano glass.

  4. Now that you mention the similarity to glass, I can see the resemblance of the patterns to a particular form of glassworks often used in paperweights, I think it might be termed “millefiori”. Maybe these glass paperweights are examples of Venetian glass, too.

  5. Non Snot – well how interesting – I have seen this myself but supposed it was some sort of regurgitated stomach contents from a marine creature that might have been eating cuttle fish or jelly fish. It’s good to know what it is. Robert non coconut Maidenhead.

  6. Thanks, Robert. It’s amazing what creatures are on our doorstep if we pause and give a closer look. There is an invasive species called Carpet Sea Squirt (Didemnum vexillum) thought to come from Japan (http://www.snh.gov.uk/land-and-sea/managing-coasts-and-sea/marine-nonnatives/carpet-sea-squirt/)
    which is very snotty-like (and may in fact be among the sea squirts I photographed here). It creates a real problem with fouling fishing gear, buoys, mooring ropes, and cultivated shellfish. There are also some cave-dwelling microbial mats of single-celled extremophile bacteria called snottites or snoticles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snottite).

  7. Lovely! The most common sea squirt in the N Bahamas, known in polite circles as a sea hare, squirts vivid purple ink as a defence mechanism. Do your snotlings do that, do you know? RH

  8. I think the sea squirts you describe as commonly occurring in the Bahamas and politely known as sea hares may actually be sea hares. Sea hares are sea slugs (molluscs distantly related to squid and octopus) and at least some species can squirt purple ink. I kept one in a marine tank once and it would eject ink if it was disturbed. Real sea squirts just squirt water if you touch them. I didn’t touch the ones I saw at West Bay as they were inaccessible and I used a zoom for the shots.

  9. That makes complete sense. The sub-tropical ones are of course sea slugs and unrelated to true squirts. Somewhere I have a video of a pair doing something that might be – probably is – mating…

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