Tunicates are marine filter-feeders with a unique, sac-like body structure.
In their respiration and feeding they take in water through an incurrent (or inhalant) siphon and expel the filtered water through an excurrent (or exhalant) siphon.
Most adult tunicates are sessile and attached to rocks or similarly suitable surfaces on the ocean floor; others such as salps, doliolids and pyrosomes swim in the pelagic zone as adults.
Various species are commonly known as sea squirts, sea pork or sea tulips.
Tunicates contain a host of potentially useful chemical compounds, including:
Didemnins, effective against various types of cancer, as antivirals and immunosuppressants
Aplidine, effective against various types of cancer
Trabectedin, effective against various types of cancer
Various Ascidiacea species are consumed as food around the world. In Japan and Korea, the sea pineapple (Halocynthia roretzi) is the main species eaten
The use of tunicates as a source of biofuel is being researched. The cellulose body wall can be broken down and converted into ethanol and other parts of the animal are protein-rich and can be converted into fish feed.
A colony of sea squirts forms a colorful landscape, ample hiding place for an Eastern cleaner-clingfish (Cochleoceps orientalis) in the Tasman Sea off the coast of Australia. The tiny fish, which cleans parasites from the bodies of larger fish, fights strong currents by anchoring itself with a sucker disc on its abdomen.
“Ms. Ashley is phenomenal!… [T]he mix of listening and physical engagement is important in any classroom. She was so natural at it. I also appreciated the way she interacted with all the kids. She respected them and they respected her.”
Parents are saying wonderful things about Sea Squirts, the Aquarium’s special class just for toddlers and preschoolers.