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Still Waters

'Pile of rope' on beach is real sea creature

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Still Waters

A tangled mass of what looked like discarded yellow rope recently washed up on a beach in Texas. But this peculiar knotty pile wasn't garbage. It was a colorful sea whip — a type of soft, flexible coral. 

Rebekah Claussen, a National Park Service (NPS) guide at the Padre Island National Seashore near the Gulf of Mexico, found one of these "rope balls" partly buried in the sand, and the park shared her photo on Facebook on Feb. 1.

Sea whips can be red, yellow, orange, violet, lavender or purple, according to the Marine Species Identification Portal. However, "we mostly see the yellow and red varieties washing up on our beaches," NPS representatives wrote in the Facebook post.


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