It's been awhile since I've visited Padre Island. I have many fond memories, though. Gosh, I miss the ocean. But I digress.

As much as I loved being at the beach, every now and then I'd happen upon some trash that had washed up from the ocean, usually some kind of plastic. It always saddened me a bit and I would silently chide whatever human thoughtlessly flung it out into the ocean.

And after seeing this photo today, if I were to come upon sea whip, I'd be silently chiding some would-be litterer once again. But I'd be wrong.

I know it looks like a bunch of tangled nets and cords, but it's actually a type of coral known as sea whip--and it's new to the Padre Island National Seashore.

MySanAntonio.com reports the sea whip "comes in several colors, like red, white, purple, and yellow, and can be found from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico."

Once the sea whip has washed a 'shore, "you might notice the black on the inside of the coral, which is its skeleton. The polyps on the whip will die when exposed to air and give off a dead-fish odor."

Ew.

If you're headed to Padre and you happen to see one, don't touch it. (Not that you'd want to, most likely.)

So yes, it may look like trash. But thankfully it's not. Speaking of which--don't mess with Texas. That includes our coastal waters. ;)