Those Gelatinous Blobs

There’s been a lot of talk around town about those gelatinous blobs floating in the water up at Riis Park and elsewhere. A couple of weeks back I was swimming with friends and they were suspended in every inch of the water close to shore. It felt weird against our skin but that didn’t deter our swim. Although it’s all we could talk about as we were bobbing around, trying to cool off in the water.

Our first thought was baby jellyfish. But that just seemed too simple. And the small black dot in the blob was curious. It made me think this is not something common.

Sea Salps Photo via instagram fishguyphotos (1)

Photo credit: @fishguyphotos 

What I believe is the true answer was revealed by my friend Elisa – Sea Salps. I’ve never heard of these creatures before. I learned they are barrel-shaped, planktic tunicate and they do not sting. They are harmless to us. They appear closer to shore as the water becomes nutrient rich. The translucent blobs eat phytoplankton and move by pumping water through their bodies, which is a form of jet propulsion.

They are invertebrates with a complex life cycle. Normally Salps are deep in the ocean and often are seen linked as chains near the equator and the Southern Ocean. They connect when threatened by a predator or if the water current is too strong.

Whales love to eat Salps (along with 202 other species) and last week I saw whales from the boardwalk!

Check out this  article by Ray Vann, if you’re interested in more details about Salps!


tagged in ocean, rockaway