SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – An image of what appears to be strange blob of flesh that was apparently seen all over the beach in Surfside Beach over the weekend is getting some attention on Facebook.
Deb Bonifield Bibart posted a photo of the oddity to the SURFSIDIANS Facebook group Saturday, saying her friend saw them all over the beach.
It turns out that the blob is the aptly-named "sea pork," a type of tunicate that resembles a sponge, and is actually one of the most highly-evolved marine invertebrates, according to the website for the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab.
Tim Handsel, the Director of Husbandry at Ripley's Aquarium and a marine life expert, confirmed that it is sea pork, which is a colonial tunicate that is common in the area. He said they are typically found attached to hard substrate.
Several members of the Facebook group responded confirming the photo is of sea pork, also known as a sea squirt, sea liver, or sea tulip. According to the Wikipedia article on tunicates, which cites multiple scientific sources, they are filter feeders with a water-filled, sac-like body structure with two tubular openings which draw in and expel water. It gets the name sea pork from the resemblance of their dead colonies to pieces of meat.