Attention tunicate nerds! The Proceedings of the 2nd International Invasive Sea Squirt Symposium (I love that name) (and, OK, it’s Conference, not Symposium, but how could I resist renaming it to something more fun!) are now online! And there’s a lot there to check out.
First off, we now know the tunicate formerly known as Didemnum sp. A, D. vestum, D. vexillum, D. lutarium, D. lahillei, D. helgolandicum, and the ever popular D. whattheheckisthisium depending on which country it was found in is ALL THE SAME SPECIES! To those of us who have been following the spread of Didemnum all over the world, I have to admit, it’s kind of like the angels sang. Thanks to the persistence of Gretchen Lambert and the crackerjack genetics work of Lauren Stefaniak (who was my student back when I was an underwater research TA *ahem*!) we’ve got this bad boy nailed. And it may be from Japan! Oh, I do so love it when a story comes together.
There are also loads of other interesting stories – the creeping spread of Styela plicata, the effects of S. clava on aquaculture, tales of ascidians hitchhiking on crabs and lobsters, culturing guidelines for botryllids including how sometimes they are EATEN FROM THE INSIDE BY CILLIATES! It’s fun for the whole ascidian nerd family. By which I mean mine. And my hypothetical future children.
But perhaps my favorite paper of the whole lot is a paper on the potential market for farming Styela clava! Yes! Finally a citable reference for these little guys. No recipes, true, but, it’s a start.
Because, really, you don’t need to go far to begin seeing them creep into our cuisine. You can even find them frozen from a company called “Nature & People”. Heck, you can buy them in markets in North Carolina. Truly, sea squirt haute cuisine is within our grasp!
And of course, online, Styela is making its way into into food blogs. There’s the perrenial favorite Mideodok-chim recipe, of course. But now more dishes are making their way into the blogs, too! Blowfish and squirt! Delish! The soup looks really tasty, actually…
But why stay traditional! You could mix in some key lime, aji amarillo,
and salt. Is it wrong that it looks so tasty? This blogger describes them as tasting like a fatty oyster. This of course brings up the possibility of deep frying…
So, mysteries solved, new culinary height on the horizon – it’s an exciting time for invasive squirts. What else will the rise of slime bring us?