Today there is lots of sea pork washing up on the Marco Island beach–flesh color, bright orange and black. The black is being mistaken for tar balls.
How can you tell the difference between sea pork and a tar ball? Sea pork will be firm, smooth, rubbery and flexible and smells a bit like algae or “low tide.” If you look closely, you can actually see the tiny individual zooids embedded in the cellulose “glob.” Tar bars will be sticky and distinctly smell like hydrocarbon, asphalt or oil.
Pass the word along to fellow stewards and any beach-goers who have questions!