Baked Bean Seasquirt

These small sea-squirts are about 1.5 centimetres across and live in very dense communities on rocky seabeds, boulders, wrecks and even on the Lundy jetty.

Sea-squirts are tiny leathery animals that either live in dense communities or are solitary. They generally have a barrel- or bulb-shaped body with two siphons (openings) towards one end. Water is drawn into the barrel (body) through one siphon and expelled out through the other. Microscopic food particles are filtered out of the water through a sieve inside the barrel, and then eaten. As young the larvae of sea-squirts look more like tadpoles and are able to swim around. They then settle onto the rocky seabed or other hard structure and change into the adult. This change (called metamorphosis) is just like a tadpole changing into a frog or caterpillar into a butterfly. The colour, size, shape and numbers of the pictured sea-squirt make them appear like a portion of baked-beans on the seabed. This descriptive common name helps people easily form a picture of what the species looks like.

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