The internet is abuzz today at the sight of these fleshy-colored grape-sized sea blobs found on Huntington Beach, CA.
As something of sea-blob fancier myself, my first reaction was: “oh yeah they’re probably…wait…wait what are these?” According to the first news report I read, these fleshy grapes were ID-ed by Dr. Christopher G. Lowe as sea cucumbers. Now, Dr. Lowe knows his cukes, but I needed more. What kind of cuke?! Where did they come from? Why now?! So I reached out to Echinoblogger Dr. Chris Mah for added intel.
According to Dr. Mah, these critters are known as Molpadia (Caudina) arenicola, or more adorably as the ‘sea sweet potato’. Sea sweet potatoes, like many sea cucumbers (this conversation is getting vegetable-y) live on the seafloor, and their tracks are visible in some of the photos taken by local beach goers.
As for where they came from and why, these little tater tots are true So Cal natives. Dr. Mah guesses they washed up in a patch of rough water, but they’re always out there, just not quite so high and dry.
So watch where you step California friends. It’s beach potato time!