Salps The Clear Blobs Washing Up On The Beach
The salps (salpae, or salpa) are back and washing up on the beaches. Not in huge numbers yet. One year they were so thick in the surf your lines would get coated up with them and make it all the way to your reel. It was slimy. then dried up and crusty. Especially with braided line. They can clog up line to the point you are cutting it off and rerigging all day.
You will also catch them when you are scooping up sand fleas.
Salps are barrel shaped pelagic tunicates. They move by contracting their “body”, that action pumps water and pushes them along. As the water is pushed through their body cavity they filter feed plankton for food. There about fifty species of salps around the globe. One of the most common and important tunicates in the ocean. They grow in many different shapes and sizes, some elaborate like a chandelier, others just look a blob of Jello. By the time they wash ashore they are no longer alive.
One species of salps near Antarctica is the second most abundant large plankton after krill. They will cover thousands of square miles at times. They will live solitary lives at one point, but will link up in huge chains, lines, wheels and elaborate shapes of salp colonies.
Salps start life as females then switch to males for the rest of their lives, no one knows why. Their life cycle is days to months, depending on the species.