Pyura chilensis

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Pyura chilensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Subphylum:Tunicata
Class:Ascidiacea
Order:Pleurogona
Suborder:Stolidobranchia
Family:Pyuridae
Genus:Pyura
Species:P. chilensis
Binomial name
Pyura chilensis
(Molina, 1782)
 
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Pyura chilensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Subphylum:Tunicata
Class:Ascidiacea
Order:Pleurogona
Suborder:Stolidobranchia
Family:Pyuridae
Genus:Pyura
Species:P. chilensis
Binomial name
Pyura chilensis
(Molina, 1782)

Pyura chilensis is a tunicate of the Pyuridae family. It was described in 1782 by Juan Ignacio Molina.[1]

Contents

Description

It is a sea animal, commonly called the tunica rock or "lick", that appears to be a mass of organs inside a rock. They often live in dense aggregations of population in the intertidal and subtidal coast of Chile and Peru. Similar in appearance to a marine rock structure, it eats by sucking in water rich in organic matter and filtering out microorganisms. It is characterized by a strong flavor given by high iodine content, but the taste actually corresponds to the vanadium secreted from its blood.[2] They have some basic characteristics common to chordates, such as the notochord and a perforated pharynx. It is born male, becomes hermaphroditic at puberty, and reproduces by tossing clouds of sperm and eggs into the surrounding water. If it is alone, it will self procreate. On the Chilean coast, Pyura banks are heavily fished, but so far they have not seen the effects of overfishing, likely due to their high growth rates. They have, however, become increasingly hard to catch in bulk over the years. The Pyura is also one of the main food sources of other local aquatic species such as the Chilean abalone (Concholepas concholepas), whose reproduction has threatened and severely restricted its growth for more than two decades.

Gastronomy

Raw piure in Valparaíso

The meat of this shellfish, which has a strong flavour and is considered very tasty, can be prepared raw or cooked. It is usually cut into small pieces, and flavoured with chopped onion, cilantro, and lemon. It is cooked, chopped and boiled, serving as part of many dishes, highlighting the "rice with chopped Pyura”. It can also be fried to be eaten on a piece of bread or as a complement to many dishes.

Extraction

Bunches of dried Pyura hanging in Puerto Montt

Many locals put on their wet suit and goggles to swim the shores searching for this delicacy. Some may even travel out to sea, despite the danger of the ocean waters.

When packaged for the fish market, the fish is typically cut with a carpenter's saw into slices. When ready to eat, Chileans use their fingers to break away the hard shell and scoop out the insides.

References

External links