Have you ever wondered what lives in the ocean around Cronulla? Sure, there have been sightings of sharks and of course some beautiful fish, but what if someone told you there was a real living animal under the water that could only be seen at a very low tide? What would you think it would be? Cronulla’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster? The answer is far more amazing!
A few weeks ago, at very low tide, Lara Taylor was swimming in the ocean by the rock pools at North Cronulla, when she saw something that intrigued her. “I went for a wander after going for a swim,” she recounts, “and I saw these things. I went back and forth.” At first, she ignored them, thinking nothing much of them, but then decided to walk back and take a closer look. Unsure, but fascinated by what she could see, she thought she should take a photo.
After a few days, Lara made her way back to the spot again, eager to catch another glimpse of the what she thought to be a plant, only to be disappointed by its disappearance. When she had originally sighted it, it had been a super low tide, dictated by the moon, meaning she would need to return at super low tide, another month away.
Lara’s interest was now piqued and after much research, the Royal Botanical Gardens referred her to a phycologist – an expert in seaweed. They declared it to be a most interesting specimen, that was indeed an animal and not a plant as originally thought. Known as a Stalked Tunicate, these creatures usually live singularly, but incredibly the ones at Cronulla are living in a cluster formation. This is due to the weather and the tides moving them back and forth. The Oregon Coast Aquarium notes that despite their fragile appearance, surrounded by the “strong currents and pounding surf,” it is that that helps them survive. “Water is filtered through siphons at the end of the body and food is extracted. They are often referred to as ‘suspension feeders.’”
So, next time you are near the rockpools at Cronulla, and it happens to be a super low tide, see if you can get a glimpse of these “Sea Squirts.” Send it through to us and we can see if it has changed or grown.