If you've spent alot of time on the local beach and have been paying attention to what is on the sand - or maybe even floating in the water- you have seen these. I've seen them in the past up and down the beach after a hurricane or nor'easter. The objects that don't find their way back out into the ocean dry on the beach and when dry become stone-like.. In fact, if I searched long enough through shells and stones gathered long ago by my now adult children I'm sure I could find some.
Depends on where your mind is at the time if you think they look like human body waste and smell like it too. Most people that have been doing the "beach thing" for many years think they look like something natural that washed in from the ocean and they smell like marsh.
If you want to think they smell like p***, go ahead.
Potato sponges, which comprise a diverse group within the genus Craniella, are normally inconspicuous animals (yes, they are animals) that inhabit shallow coastal habitats around the world, growing to about the size of a soccer ball. They look like, well, potatoes and attach to the seafloor with a network of protein fibers and glassy, needle-like “spicules” that form something like an anchor.
But when weather conditions cause large waves and strong currents to scour the seafloor, they can dislodge large numbers of these sponges, freeing them to float to the surface and wash ashore. Clogged with storm debris and no longer able to filter feed, the sponges die. Then they start to smell as decay and bacteria move in to consume the carbohydrates and collagen that form their body.
Potato sponges are not poisonous—Dr. Duffy even found a recipe for potato sponge cake on the Food Network (but it turned out to require regular potatoes). Nevertheless, VIMS scientists caution area residents to avoid touching them as a precaution, as their glassy spicules can irritate the skin and eyes.