Salps are a type of small, barrel-shaped, transparent marine animal that are often referred to as “the ocean’s vacuum cleaners.”
They take in water at one end, filter out tiny plants and animals to eat with internal nets made of mucus, and squirt water out their back ends to propel themselves forward.
Salps are non-selective filter feeders and eat everything that they trap in their feeding net.
Although the mesh of their feeding net is efficient enough to catch a variety of different sizes of particles from bacteria to larvae, their main food is phytoplankton.
Despite their abundance in the ocean, salps are generally harmless to humans.
In fact, they are an important part of the marine food web and play a crucial role in the carbon cycle by consuming phytoplankton and excreting carbon-rich fecal pellets.
Salps are also known for their jet propulsion system, which is one of the most efficient examples of this type of movement in the animal kingdom.
Scientists are studying salps to better understand their role in the marine ecosystem and how they might be affected by climate change.