This Completely Transparent Salp Doesn’t Look Real: PHOTO

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

When you take a look at this photo of a salp, it might not appear real and could be some type of optical illusion taking place here. But, oddly enough, this is definitely a salp. The photo began circulating on social media this week, and the Internet has a lot of thoughts about it.

Some people might mistake a salp for a jellyfish. That’s understandable. Both do have some similar qualities to them but a salp is definitely different. According to the Australian Museum, these fine fish come from the group of animals known as Tunica. These also happen to be known as sea squirts. Now, salps are related to all animals that have backbones.

Animals known as larval salps have a notochord running down their back. It happens to be a tough and flexible rod. What’s its purpose? This protects its central nerve cord and offers up an attachment point for muscles. As they grow, adults will lose their notochord.

A Salp Has One Amazing Life Cycle

Much like all animals, including humans, there is a need for food. It is the life supply that keeps us all alive. When it comes to salps, what in the world do they eat? Their main food source comes from phytoplankton. Here’s another amazing fact about a salp. It has one of the fastest maturation rates in all of nature. A salp can grow into full maturity within 48 hours. That’s quite a turnaround for an animal to make. They can increase their body length by 10% per hour.

As all animals have, there is a life cycle that happens. Every animal has its birth and its death. Salps are no different. What is that life cycle like for the animal? We get more information about this from the Australian Antarctic Program. These salp will actually alternate between what is termed sexual and asexual forms. Sexual forms will have a colony and be called aggregates. Asexual salp will be solitary. Females will have one or two eggs upon release from a solitary parent.

How does mating happen to take place for these animals? It happens with larger male aggregates. The embryos will grow inside an aggregate body. This takes place by being nurtured through a placenta. As these embryos mature, they happen to be released. The mother aggregate will then become male. These released embryos will grow to be mature solitaries. They asexually reproduce “stolons.”