They look like egg sacks. Or some kind of jellyfish. Or perhaps baby octopi.
Actually, they don’t look like anything you’ve likely ever seen.
Port Hardy resident Ron Lines was walking his dog at Storeys Beach in Port Hardy this week when he came across an odd formation of jelly-like creatures.
“They weren’t much to look at, I almost stepped on it,” said Lines. “It was just lying on the sand. At first I thought it was some kind of egg case. I’d never recognize it from anything I’ve seen before.”
Lines took some photos and shared them on Facebook. He said a local marine biologist and “marine detective” Jackie Hildering got back to him quickly and told him they were certain species of salp. The aniumals were dead, but Lines arranged to have them taken to Port Hardy Secondary School for bilogy-class study.
According to Wikipedia, “a salp is a barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate. It moves by contracting, thus pumping water through its gelatinous body. Salp jet propulsion is one of the most efficient in the animal kingdom. The salp strains the pumped water through its internal feeding filters, feeding on phytoplankton.”
Hildering told The Gazette these are “extremely evolved animals” with “an incredibly intriguing life cycle.”
Hildering – see her blog at www.facebook.com/TheMarineDetective/ — said these animals filter plankton and play an important role reducing carbon.
“They are making life better on earth for us humans,” she said, adding that these animals are normally not in our area and are usually found in warmer waters.
“Salps are common in equatorial, temperate, and cold seas, where they can be seen at the surface, singly or in long, stringy colonies. The most abundant concentrations of salps are in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, where they sometimes form enormous swarms, often in deep water, and are sometimes even more abundant than krill. Since 1910, while krill populations in the Southern Ocean have declined, salp populations appear to be increasing. Salps have been seen in increasing numbers along the coast of Washington.”