Salps on North Oregon Coast: an Interesting Beach Find Surprises Expert
Photos by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – Last week, Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium was wandering a beach south of Cannon Beach and made a gelatinous find she hadn't seen before: a certain kind of salp.
“These large salps were spotted at Hug Point,” Boothe said. “Salps are amazing animals, though in appearance they resemble jellyfish, they are more closely related to fish. They can form large aggregations of millions of individuals linking together in a chain which can measure up to one meter.”
Salps are filter feeders, able to filter up to 2.5 liters of water per hour, Boothe said.
This find south of Cannon Beach - on the north Oregon coast - marks a rare occurrence for Boothe as well.
This is the first time I have found this species, which I presume is Salpa maxima,” Boothe said. “I have found a smaller species of salp quite often, Salpa fusifomis. Just another fun thing to keep your eyes on the look out for.”
Salps are basically pelagic tunicates that feed on plankton as they ride along with the ocean's currents.
“Sometimes, when following a closer inshore current, strong westerly winds can drive them into the surf where they get beat up and eventually get stranded on the beach,” Boothe said.
Salps are the most common of pelagic tunicates, especially in the Pacific Ocean, and can form enormous groups of millions of them in the sea, playing an integral role in certain marine ecosystems.
They grow the fastest of any multicellular organism, according to jellieszone.com, and have a cylindrical body surrounded by the jelly-like, transparent covering. It contracts a series of bands of muscles to shoot itself through the water via jet action.
Some forms of salps snag their food via a kind of mucous net that comes from a specialized gland. The net – or “house,” as it’s called by scientists – is let go when it’s clogged with food, and a new one is soon excreted by the gland. These salps can create up to ten of these houses in a day, but must swim continuously to feed.
More about Cannon Beach lodging and dining below. More images of Hug Point below as well.
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