Welcome to Speak Up For Blue’s first (and potentially only) installment of Tunicate Tuesday! Today we’ll be talking about pyrosomes, rare colonial tunicates that have been astonishing divers and YouTube viewers alike. Though they look like a single organism, pyrosomes are actually colonies comprised of genetically-identical individual zooids. Because the zooids themselves are only a few millimeters large, it can be difficult to distinguish individual organisms within a pyrosome colony. This gives the pyrosome a smooth and cohesive appearance when viewed anywhere other than under a microscope.
These bioluminescent organisms (watch video below) are filter feeders and are occasionally found pulsating through the open ocean. Pyrosome colonies can be anywhere from a centimeter to a few meters long, and can be wide enough for a human to theoretically swim through. I say theoretically because, please, don’t be that jerk who tries to swim through a pyrosome for YouTube fame and ends up behind an interdimensional bookshelf.
Unfortunately, not much else is known about these mysterious members of the phylum Chordata, which includes invertebrates (like salps and larvaceans) as well as vertebrates (like fish and mammals). However, hopefully this episode inspires budding marine biologists to study the enigmatic pyrosome.
Enjoy the Podcast!
Other Resources: Deep Sea News Article