Below are a few examples of tunicates living on Oregon’s exposed rocky shores or washed up on the beaches. The photos are from northern Oregon unless noted. My tunicate identification needs improvement, so I’m starting with just a few (very few!) distinctive forms. Organization-wise, I loosely follow Lamb and Hanby (2005). I refer to WoRMS for scientific names, and if I use common names, they’re my choice. The books, field guides, and identification resources listed at the bottom of the page cover the tunicates shown below and many more.

Let there be tunicates!

While there is a bit of Pacific Northwest Styela diversityI’m pretty sure the examples below are Styela montereyensis.

Thetys vagina
This large salp washes up on the beaches from time to time.


Gotshall, D. W. 2005. Guide to Marine Invertebrates, Alaska to Baja California 2nd Edition (Revised). Shoreline Press.
Harbo, R. M. 2011. Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. 2nd ed. Harbour Publishing Co.
Jensen, G. C. 1995. Pacific Coast Crabs and Shrimps. Sea Challengers, Monterey.
Kozloff, E. N. 1993. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast. 3rd ed. University of Washington Press.
Lamb, A. and B. P. Hanby. 2005. Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing.
Sept. J. D. 2019. The New Beachcomber’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing.

Online Resources

Biodiversity of the Central Coast’s Tunicates page. Accessed 01/14/2023.

Friends of Netarts Bay WEBS Tunicates page. Accessed 01/14/2023.

It’s worth scrolling down to tunicates in Common Sea Life of Southeastern Alaska: A field guide by Aaron Baldwin & Paul Norwood. Accessed 01/14/2023.

For invasives, have a look at Invasive Tunicates in the Pacific Northwest. Accessed 01/14/2023.

Brian Catelli (2002, as edited). Styela montereyensisInvertebrates of the Salish Sea. Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory. Accessed 01/14/2023.

I updated this page on February 14, 2023