I first saw these creatures in November of 2014, on a three-day Catalina cruise.  They are, uh, surprising.  We were anchored bow and stern at Cabrillo, in the lee of Little Gibraltar, and saw hundreds of these in the water.  We were distracted for a couple of hours, laughing, retrieving a few from deck using a bucket, and then snorkeling and swimming among them.

Have you seen these at Catalina or Santa Barbara Island?

When we went ashore at the Isthmus, I visited the Harbor Master and showed the pictures on my phone. He did not know what they were but said they had been washing up on the beach.  The water temp was in the low seventies, unusually warm for November.

 After returning to land, a friend Googled the image and found Pyrosomes.  And now they have a Wikipedia page that says they are “…free floating colonial tunicates…”  Basically, a collective organism that filter feeds and can propel itself slowly through the water.

I haven’t seen these in the Northern Channel Islands yet, and we last saw them on our Santa Barbara Island – Catalina cruise this December.  Mother Nature does some amazing things! Keep a sharp lookout and let us know when and where you see Pyrosomes.