Photo courtesy of Marlin Harms
You may have been seeing these crystal-like, tubular, squishy things on the beach lately and wondering what they are. They are Pyrosoma atlanticum, a pelagic tunicate found in cooler waters around the world. Check out Wikipedia for a lot of good information on this species. They are often bioluminescent and you can get a hint of that if you pick one up and wet it again. The ones we find are usually about 4” or less in length, but they can be a meter in diameter and up to 9 meters long in some places! Pyrosoma is another colonial tunicate (check out past blogs) and it also feeds on plankton and small organisms in the water. Sometimes they come ashore by the hundreds, depending on the wind, or other times you will find only one or two. But now you know what they are!