Cunjevoi Tim Keegan/Flickr

Cunjevoi

Pyura stolonifera

Did You Know?

  • Tunicates or sea squirts are actually distantly related to mammals
  • It's a protected species in some parts of Sydney Harbour
  • Used to be a common food source for First Nations people and today fishermen use its orange coloured organs as fishing bait
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A type of sea squirt, an animal that forms large colonies as a dense mat over rocks which are highly visible at low tide.

Its shape is squat and globular. It has a thick leathery outer layer called a ‘tunic’ which is often covered with brown or green algae. Cylindrical in shape with 2 openings called siphons for inhaling and exhaling water and feeding.

Size

Max height is 300 mm, average size is 150 mm high and 80 mm wide.

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What to Observe

Search area for 30 minutes and record the following:

  • Abundant: found easily with little searching

  • Frequent: found with minimal searching

  • Rare: only 1 or 2 individuals found with intensive searching

  • Not found: not present during search

Climate Adaptations

As a result of climate change, warm tropical ocean currents are expected to strengthen and persist for longer periods in southern coastal area normally dominated by cooler waters. The consequent increases in water temperature are likely to result in unfavourable growing conditions for cool water Cunjevoi species.

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When and Where

When To Look

  • Throughout the year

Where To Look

  • Ranges from southern Queensland, NSW, eastern and central Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia
    Broken up pieces can often be found on beaches after storms
    Look in intertidal rocky shores and rock pools
    Shallow water platforms exposed at low tide
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What Else?

Similar Species

Cunjevoi are difficult to confuse with other animals, although their algae covered tunics often mean they can be camouflaged and coloured like the surrounding rocks and algae. They are soft to the touch and can be identified from their circular like structure. At low tide you can sometimes see them squirt water from their mouthparts.