Seasquirts: Rocky Seabed
If you have ever handled a rope on which sea squirts are growing you will know how they get their name. Out of water they look like boring lumps of slimy jelly, but there is a lot more to them rthan that. Each squirt has two pipes or syphons - one sucks water into the animal where it is strained to extract the food, and the other expels the strained water.
Sea suirts have complex organs including a well developed digestive system, and most surprising of all they share 80% of our genes! Sea squirt larvae have a sort of backbone, which makes them close relatives of vertebrates.
Most sea squirts grow as individual animals attached to a rock or other hard surface, but some grow in colonies, often forming sheets with flower-like patterns.
Lightbulb Seasquirt (Photo: Paul Tyler)
The light bulb seasquirt occurs in small colonies. They also glow in the dark!
Colonial Seasquirts (Photo: Sue Scott)
A close-up of 2 different kinds of colonial seasquirts. Each ‘petal’ in the flower-like pattern is in fact a single sea squirt. Colonies of these spread across flat surfaces on the seabed
Pink Seasquirts (Photo: Paul Tyler)
Many sea squirts are solitary animals. You can clearly see the 2 syphons in this pink sea squirt - one to suck food-laden water in, the other to exhale it after straining out the food.
by Paul Tyler