With a rising feeling of excitement I investigated further. Was it a plant or an animal? The mass was about the size of a man's outstretched hand and about 50 mm thick. Nudging it with my foot it felt spongy on the top, and firmer where it had been attached to a rock.
Two tubes (with 15 mm openings) located at the top end, looked like filter-feeding tubes; while two nipple-like bumps on the side had me puzzled. What purpose? Eyes? Ears? Or, with a stretch the imagination, nipples? Probably not, on further consideration. By this stage, however, I was sure I was looking at an animal, rather than a plant.
Tiny seaweeds grew on the top, which was a stronger orange colour than the underneath which tended to be more of a pale pink. After rinsing it clean of sand -- in a nearby pool -- and taking photographs, we placed it in a larger rock pool in case there was still any life left in this strangely beautiful creature.
Unfortunately though, it looked dead.