SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — No, this is not pork, and yes, it is alive.
The burger patty-looking filter feeder is called Tunicates, or sea pork, and they are more closely related to humans than jellyfish.
These rubbery marine invertebrates come in various shapes and sizes and can be found in the colors green, red, purple and black.
Tunicates are also called “sea squirts” for squirting water when squeezed and normally live on hard rocky surfaces.
They can be blown onto shore due to strong winds and hurricanes, so this could be the reason why beachgoers at Tybee Island are seeing more of the sea creatures.
Seemingly not appetizing, Tunicates are a delicacy in Japan, Korea, Chile and parts of the Mediterranean. Some species can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled or dried, with a 2022 study showing that eating these animals reversed aging in mice.
Not found in freshwater, there are over 3,020 known species of this animal worldwide, which serves an important purpose when it comes to water quality by balancing nutrients from the water.