Friday, January 13, 2012

Sea tulip: plant or animal?

Recent storms and heavy seas mean that lots of interesting flotsam has washed ashore. My latest find is a sea tulip.

Although a sea tulip looks very much like a plant it's actually a primitive animal related closely to the sea squirt (for photos and details about sea squirts, please go to my December 15 blog titled 'An alien tossed ashore: Phillip Island').

This stalked cunjevoi is tulip-shaped and comes in colours varying from shades of vivid yellow to red. Other references describe the sea tulip as a small, rough, irregularly shaped potato at the end of a stalk.

The sea tulip attaches itself to a submerged rock at a level just below the low tide -- on ocean shores all around the Australian coast.

A sea tulip is a fascinating creature in that it looks like a plant but is, in fact, an animal.

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