The sea squirt has a rounded, leathery body and two short siphons. (Arjan Gittenberger)
The sea squirt is a tunicate with a rounded, leathery body and two short siphons. It lives on reefs, pilings and other hard surfaces in the shallow waters of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay.
Round, leathery, yellowish- or greenish-brown body
Two short siphons projecting from the top of the body
Grows to a maximum of 2 inches
Lives in clumps on reefs, pilings, jetties and other hard surfaces in shallow waters
Found throughout the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay
Feeds by drawing water into the body through one of its siphons
Food particles are filtered through the pharynx and digestive tract
Waste products are ejected from the body through the other siphon
Reproduction and Life Cycle:
Spawns by releasing eggs and sperm into the water
After about three days, eggs develop into free-swimming, tadpole-like larvae. Larvae are fairly sophisticated: they have long tails, a primitive eye and backbone (called a notochord), a slender nerve cord, and a hollow, enlarged brain.
Larvae eventually settle and attach to a hard surface using an adhesive mechanism on the head
In about 3-4 days, the tail, nerve cord and notochord are absorbed, leaving only a small mass of nerve tissue. The body and siphons, as well as digestive, reproductive and circulatory organs, soon develop.
Also called sea grapes because bunches of sea squirts look like bunches of grapes
When prodded, sea squirts will eject a jet of water from one of their siphons