Nope, this isn’t a post about politics. It’s about tunicates. The NY Times has a good story about the Smithsonian’s NEMESIS Database, which contains “information on non-native (or exotic) species that occur in coastal marine waters of the United States.” Now, in fairness to the reporter, the article is about the database–which is news. But this paragraph was personally jarring:
The first group of marine invaders to go live on the Web site are the tunicates, a taxonomic category sometimes referred to as sea squirts. The invasive tunicates that have achieved Nemesis fame all permanently attach themselves to surfaces like rocks, shells, dock or boats and then eat by filtering phytoplankton out of the water.
Why? Because I used to study an invasive tunicate, Botrylloides violaceous (which at the time was misidentified as B. diagensis) in its non-native habitat.
Needless to say, this database is long overdue. And to find out more about the bestest tunicate EVAH!, click here.