SCDNR Identifies: Pink blob on Folly Beach

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FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – Is it an ear, a human liver, or possibly even a tongue? That’s what many people are asking after a pink blob surfaced on the ‘I Love Folly Beach’ Facebook page. 

J.T White, the James Island resident who came cross the blob with his daughter, believed it was initially debris from a sea animal rather than marine life of its own. 

You know I just can’t not know what that is—it just looked like a lung or something. Morbid curiosity took over, and I started to poke it and try to figure out what it was. 

J.T. White, James Island Resident  

Part of that process was to pick it up and having noted it felt like organ tissue. White said one side was almost gunk or slime and had a porous and sort of liquid viscosity to it while the other side felt like living tissue.  

As for how his 3 ½ year old daughter felt about the encounter? 

She wasn’t as excited about the slime as I was, but she kind of poked it and played with it and yah know then we put it back because we try not to disturb the wildlife as it was. So, I didn’t know if it was living or not so we just put it back.  

J.T. White, James Island Resident 

According to Erin Weeks, the Media Coordinator for the Marine Resources Division with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), by the time White found it, the marine life was no longer living. Despite the many Facebook comments, it was not an organ.  

It looks like it may be of human origin but it’s actually not. It’s a marine invertebrate called Sea Pork which is actually a Tunicate. They’re very common in South Carolina Waters. They often look like organs.

Erin Weeks, Media Coordinator for the Marine Resources Division with SCDNR 

She went on to note that Tunicates, like Sea Pork, are not just one animal but a group of organisms living together in a colony making them similar to coral—a sea creature they also use to survive.

They often live on the seafloor where they attach to coral or rocks. When we’ve got storms or strong currents they sometimes get ripped off of those surfaces and carry them to shore where folks will see them on the beach. 

Erin Weeks, Media Coordinator for the Marine Resources Division with SCDNR 

Even more, Weeks explained that they are called Sea Pork because when they wash ashore and start to bleach out in the sun, they look like fat back. And while it may look like fat back, Sea Pork should not be brought home and cooked. Weeks asks that you rather just throw it back into the ocean for other sea creatures to feed on as some Tunicates can have poisonous skins.

White said the most surprising part of the entire experience was the response the post had on Facebook. Having noted that a whole community of people joined it whether they knew what the Sea Pork was—or not.

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