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Ascidia zara
Image courtesy of Melissa Frey, Royal BC Museum, Canada
Ascidia zara
Taxonomic Group: Tunicates


Ascidia zara is a solitary tunicate with an oval, flattened body and a thin, translucent tunic that tears easily. It is native to the Northwest Pacific, ranging from Hokkaido, Japan to the southern tip of Korea. On the Pacific coast of North America, it was first recognized in southern California in 1996; however, a preserved specimen from Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor in 1984 was identified as A. zara. This suggests that A. zara arrived prior to 1996, but went unnoticed because of its similarity to the native tunicate Ascidia ceratodes. It was collected in San Francisco Bay in 2000 and Elkhorn Slough and Bodega Harbor in 2001 and 2003. In sampling throughout Southern California in 1995-2000, Ascidia zara was abundant, apparently outcompeting the native A. ceratodes. However, in surveys in 2011, A. zara was scarce and A. ceratodes was again common.

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Fofonoff PW, Ruiz GM, Steves B, Simkanin C, & Carlton JT (2018)
National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System.
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Marine Invasions Lab
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