As if it wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful already, Frenchman’s Creek at low tide is a spectacular place. When the water level drops the mud flats below become exposed and a whole new world of amazing wildlife becomes visible.
This Star Ascidian is a Tunicate, a marine species which grows on slow moving and stationary surfaces. Arranged in the shape of a star, the tunicate is actually a cluster of individual organisms called zooids.
Widespread in the Atlantic, tunicates make their home in the unique Helford Passage because of its salinity. They exist in an array of beautiful colours, ranging from blue to orange and reproducing by ‘budding’ or cloning when reproduction with other individuals is not possible.
Perhaps the most interesting part about this alien looking animal, is that it is the closest invertebrate relative to humans, marking the time when animals first developed back bones! – Another fantastic sighting, along side our gun-powder smelling Breadcrumb sponge a few weeks ago.
Daisy Gates Zoology BSc University of Exeter