What is this strange creature found on a beach in Australia?

What is this creepy creature found on a beach in Australia?
What is this creepy creature found on a beach in Australia?

A beachgoer was left stumped by a strange-looking creature he found on the sand in Australia.

Images were shared on social media of the creature found on Fremantle's South Beach in Western Australia in a bid to find out exactly what it is.

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Some suggested it looked like a human tongue, or perhaps the severed genitals of an unfortunate beachgoer.

However, thankfully, the WA Museum Head of Aquatic Zoology Dr Jane Fromont cleared up the situation, identifying the odd creature as an "ascidian or sea squirt".

According to WA Today, she said: "This particular specimen is a colonian ascidian - meaning that it has numerous individuals within the dark pink oval jelly casing seen in the image. Each little whitish flower like shape indicates an individual."

WA Museum shared a post on the strange being on its Facebook page, writing: "A creature found on Fremantle's South Beach has been identified by the Western Australian Museum.

"It's definitely not a tongue! 👅👅."

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A Department of Fisheries spokesman added that the creature had been in the process of going into hiding when its picture was taken, explaining: "When you disturb the animal they retract and close their openings and essentially start to shrivel up – the colonial ascidian has retracted but not yet shrivelled."

The Underwater Research Group Dive Club explains: "Many ascidians are colonial rather than individual. This means that they live in a colony of hundreds or thousands of animals, sometimes called "zooids", which share a common home and sometimes even share nutrients between animals."

Sea squirts are relatively common along the coast of Western Australia.