Just Blue, the site for Ascidian info
Just Blue, the site for Ascidian info

Just Blue - tunicate taxonomy and marine invertebrate research

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Pink tube sponge, Algoa Bay, South Africa This research initiative aims to make information on the southern African inter and subtidal benthic hard substrate fauna more accessible. To improve our current understanding of the environment and the organisms associated with it, we would like to bring the research closer to everybody and make is more accessible to everyone. Very little is know of our subtidal hard substrate and of the benthic organism associated with it. We aim to provide introductory information on various aspects of the southern African Marine environment and provide answers to commonly asked questions.

Ascidian, Pseudodistoma africanum, Algoa Bay, South AfricaThe main thrust of this program is in tunicate taxonomy. The southern African coast is home to a diverse but relatively poorly understood ascidian fauna. Little work has been done in the past and although the southern African coast is home to a large number of species, only some 170 species have been described in the past. Renewed interest in this group due to natural product research and anti-cancer research has highlighted the enormous amount of new and unknown compounds that are found in not only ascidians, but also sponges, bryozoans and other marine invertebrates commonly found off our coast.

Red sea pen, Eleutherobia sp., Algoa Bay, South AfricanAscidians or tunicates, commonly known as sea squirts. They are found in abundance on our shores, occur in many shapes, sizes and colours. They make out a significant component of our fauna on our rocky shores. One of the bigger species most of you are familiar with is commonly known as Red bait (Pyura stolonifera), a popular fish bait used by anglers. See our Ascidian research page for more information.

Southern Africa is blessed with a large number of habitat types, each filled with its own peculiar and interesting array of life. We are all aware of our rich terrestrial pant and animal life, it's uniqueness and diversity in Africa and in southern Africa. But few of us are aware of our marine fauna and flora. The lack of information or knowledge is directly related to the cost involved in monitoring and studying these unique environments. As we all know the marine environment (intertidal reefs, subtidal reefs, sandy beaches and estuarine environments) are partially or completely covered by water. We need sophisticated sampling apparatus and skilled divers to look, photograph, record the organisms found, and skilled researchers to investigate these organisms and the processes taking place.