Salpa fusiformis Cuvier, 1804, top & middle; S. aspera, bottom
Phylum Chordata / Subphylum Urochordata / Class Thaliacea / Order Salpida / Family Salpidae

Among all of the seas creatures, few can match the growth prowess of salps. Salpa fusiformis is among the stellar performers in this group, with growth rates of up to 40% increase in body length per day measured in some populations. As with other Salpa, this species has a compact gut nucleus, which distinguishes it from the Cyclosalpa group. Solitary individuals have body lengths between 1 and 5 cm and 9 muscle bands. Aggregate individuals have lengths from 0.5 to 4 cm and have 6 body muscles. Their distinctive fusiform shape with a posterior and anterior projection make species identification relatively easy. Individuals within a chain are aligned in the same direction as the chain axis, facilitating the relatively rapid swimming speed of aggregates. They tend to break off the chains and are often seen singly. Salpa fusiformis is a vertical migrator with nightly treks to the surface of up to 500 meters. Large widespread surface swarms that persist for weeks occur on occasion in Monterey Bay and throughout the West Coast (see second photo). During these periods many salps may wash up on beaches. This abundant species of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans is primarily oceanic with occasional nearshore swarms. Along the West Coast, it can be found as far north as the Bering Sea.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInGoogle BookmarksStumbleUponRedditShare

Comments are closed