That’s not trash on Texas beaches - it’s a living creature, Padre Island National Seashore officials say

Sea whip is a soft coral found on many U.S. beaches

Sea whip at Padre Island National Seashore (R. Claussen, National Park Service Photos)

PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Texas – Have you ever come across a tangle of yellow or red looking wire on a Texas beach - or perhaps even along the East Coast?

If so, it’s possible what you thought was trash was actually sea whip.

Sea whip is a soft coral that comes in a variety of colors from red to white to purple to yellow and officials at Padre Island National Seashore say this commonly found species is often confused for trash.

“If you look closely at a piece of washed up sea whip, you might notice the black on the inside of this coral. This is the skeleton of the coral, while the colored pieces are the tiny colonies of polyps that make up the living part of the coral,” PINS officials said in a Facebook post on Monday.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, corals are animals because they don’t make their own food the way plants do.

The most commonly found colors of sea whip in Texas are red and yellow.

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Posted by Padre Island National Seashore on Monday, February 1, 2021


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.