American Oceans

What Is A Salp?

Salps are fascinating, barrel-shaped, gelatinous creatures that are found in warm seas and are often overlooked in the world of marine biology.

a spiral salp colony in the ocean

Despite their jellyfish-like appearance, salps are actually members of the Tunicata, a group of animals also known as sea squirts.

They are classified in the Phylum Chordata, which means they are related to all animals with backbones.

Salps are known for their unique ability to move by contracting and pumping water through their gelatinous bodies, making them one of the most efficient examples of jet propulsion in the animal kingdom.

Physical Characteristics

Salps come in different sizes, from a few millimeters to several centimeters in length. They are usually found in chains or colonies, and can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

a person holding a sea salp

Some species of salps are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they start their life cycle as males and then become females later on.

Salps move through the water by contracting their muscles, which creates a jet propulsion system.

This is one of the most efficient ways to move in the animal kingdom. Salps feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton, which they filter out of the water using internal nets made of mucus.

They then excrete fecal pellets that sink to the bottom of the ocean, which helps to sequester carbon dioxide.

Salps are not harmful to humans, and they do not have a nervous system or eyes. They are often mistaken for jellyfish, but they are actually more closely related to sea squirts.

Salps can be found in large numbers in some areas, such as the Antarctic, where they form crystal-clear blobs that can be seen from space.

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