The odd-looking creatures in today’s photo are known as tunicates, an exclusively marine group of animals that take many forms. Those in this photo are known as the tunic band tunicate (Euherdmania claviformis) and are found along the Pacific Coast of North America from Central California south to San Diego.
Like all tunicates, this species makes a living by filtering its food from the passing water. Like this species, some tunicates are sessile, living attached to a surface, while others are pelagic, and float with the currents while filtering dinner.
Tunicates belong to a group that is more closely related to all vertebrate animals, humans included, than any invertebrate species found in the oceans. It’s hard to believe that this strange sack-like creature is a very distant relative of ours. But there you have it.