Sabtu, 20 Februari 2021

This Pile of ‘Trash’ Washed up on a Texas Beach, but It’s Actually a Sea Creature - Prevention.com

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  • A pile of “trash” that washed up on a Texas beach turned out to be a sea creature, according to a post from the Padre Island National Seashore.
  • Colorful sea whip is a type of soft coral, and it can wash up anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey.
  • Experts recommend letting sea whip decompose on the beach if you encounter it.

Imagine walking on the beach and, in an attempt to do a good deed, you pick up some garbage. But you quickly realize that the bundle of what appears to be rope is not what it seems. The “ball of rope” in your hands is actually a sea creature called sea whip.

Rebekah Claussen, a National Park Service (NPS) guide at the Padre Island National Seashore near the Gulf of Mexico, says that beachgoers often assume that rope- or wire-like piles of sea whip are trash—but it’s actually a form of coral.

In early February, Claussen shared a photo of a bundle of sea whip that washed up on Padre Island in Texas to Facebook. In the photo, you can see vibrant yellow stalks that are intertwined with sea shells, seaweed, and other ocean debris.

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So, what is this unique-looking sea creature, anyway?

Sea whip is a type of soft coral that’s made from long, stiff stalks. The whip consist of colonies of tiny polyps—tiny, soft-bodied organisms in the jellyfish family—that grow on off of one another into a single stem.

“If you look closely at a piece of washed up sea whip, you might notice the black on the inside of this coral,” the Facebook post read. “This is the skeleton of the coral, while the colored pieces are the tiny colonies of polyps that make up the living part of the coral.” According to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center in Georgia, sea whip can grow up to three feet in height. (Imagine seeing that on the beach!)

There is a wide variety of soft corals, but the species of sea whip that can be found in North America are colorful sea whip (Leptogorgia virgulata), ranging in red, white, purple, and yellow colors. You can typically find them attached to rocks, reefs, pilings, and shells beneath the water, but on occasion the creatures wash up on the shore anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey. “We mostly see the yellow and red varieties washing up on our beaches,” per the Facebook post.

So, the next time you hit the beach, take a close look before you assume something is trash. Claussen wrote in a Facebook comment that they’re totally harmless, but she recently told LiveScience that it’s best to leave the washed up creatures be. “Generally speaking, most of it is dead when it washes up,” she said. “We recommend just leaving the sea whip on the beach because it is natural and will decompose and help the island.”


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February 20, 2021 at 10:32PM
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This Pile of ‘Trash’ Washed up on a Texas Beach, but It’s Actually a Sea Creature - Prevention.com

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