from the specimen drawer

from the specimen drawer

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sea Pork!

Here is my foot and a big, delicious piece of sea pork.

Sea pork is a colony of animals- clusters of zooids encased in a yummy gelatinous matrix. You should try slicing one up and making some sea pork cutlets in, perhaps, some sausage gravy with a side salad of sea pansies. (Disclaimer: No- don't do that.) I do not think you should eat sea pork (or sea pansies, for that matter) unless you are really hung over. Then you can put the sea pork in a blender with some clamato and vodka. NO- don't do that either! I don't know what would happen to you if you ate or drank sea pork but it might be bad and I don't want to be held responsible.

So here is another look at the compound tunicate (from the group of animals known as Ascidians)- early relatives of yours by the way. Did you know you were in the same taxonomic phylum as sea squirts and sea pork? Well you are. In fact knowing this may put some things in perspective in regard to some people you've always wondered about.

This stuff is really dense and rubbery. I've seen it in hues of pink and orange and white. You'll find smaller colonies than the one here but they can reach a couple of meters across. You could feed a family of ten with just one giant piece of sea pork! (As I said earlier- No- don't do that.) But who does eat sea pork? Stingrays like it- those rotten little bastards. Here is another picture of my foot a few days after being whapped by a stringray.

I was just minding my own business, poking around in the shallows with my little dip net on a beach in S. Carolina when- whammo! I didn't even see the stingray but blood was squirting everywhere (well, okay, maybe not squirting- but it was dripping profusely) and in about 30 seconds pain bad enough that, according to my son, caused me to yell "God Damnit!" and "Son of a bitch!" in front of what I'm sure were some very lovely families enjoying a nice evening on the beach. (Sorry!)

Finally, I wanted to mention some (of the many!) marine invertebrates that have names that start with "sea". There are some pretty ones: sea pansy, sea heart, sea feather, and sea star. And there are some funny ones: sea mouse, sea walnut, sea bat, sea gooseberry, sea lemon and sea pussy (stop snickering- it was probably named way back when that was a perfectly innocent word) and sea weener (ha! ha! I just made that up!). But there is a sea rod. (I'm not very mature, am I?)

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