2015-01-13 22:28:05 UTC
where they'd either never been found before, or were rare, we now seem to have
a mutated type of jellyfish in our waters. And it's going after phytoplankton
- the very substance that our oceans rely on to feed many organisms, while
removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Just another threat to our ecology due to global warming.
January 13, 2015 - http://www.theadvance.ca
What's a salp? DFO scientists seek more info on sea creature
YARMOUTH - Some fishermen off southwestern Nova Scotia have been pulling up
weird-looking creatures along with their lobster traps and scientists want to
hear from those who are snagging them.
The marine animals, called salps, are similar to jellyfish but with long,
hollow, barrel-shaped bodies.
They feed on phytoplankton by pumping water through their bodies and are more
closely related to vertebrates.
Salps are the fastest-growing multi-cellular animals in the world. Some species
can grow as fast as 10 per cent of their body length each hour.
A lengthy comment thread connected to salps photos posted by Katie Baker on the
LFA 33 & LFA 34 Lobster Fisherman association Facebook page in late-November
detailed many observations from Bridgewater to Grand Manan and Maine.
Janine Dixon said they were “all over the beach” at Johns Cove in Overton in
late fall. “We saw the jelly everywhere.”
Rebekah Fitzgerald also saw them on John’s Cove beach on Sept. 28.
“The entire beach was covered in them. The water line looked like thousands of
mini jelly fish and you could literally take your hands if you walked out knee
high and scoop handfuls of them from the water,” she wrote, adding that it was
impressive to see how much they had grown in the photos.
Another person commented that they are also called dingle balls and often
caught in gillnets off Barrington in the summer.
Rebecca Goreham said there were large blooms of salps on the east coast, up to
Newfoundland, in October.
“We (St. Andrews Biological Station) caught a lot in plankton tows off of New
Brunswick as well,” she wrote.
Scientists from DFO supplied more information on the species, saying they grow
faster in warm than cold water, but food supply is probably more important than
temperature in controlling their growth. They can rapidly deplete their
phytoplankton food supply through overgrazing.
Salps have a complex life cycle, alternating between a sexually reproducing
colonial stage and an asexually reproducing solitary stage. Under the right
conditions, they grow very rapidly and can form dense blooms.
DFO scientists say there were several salp blooms reported in various parts of
the northwest Atlantic in 2014, including an unusual bloom on the Burin
Peninsula and several reports of salp blooms in the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy.
In DFO’s ocean monitoring program for the Canadian northwest Atlantic, salps
are seen occasionally in localized blooms, most often in the warmer parts of
the region in the fall.
In the fall of 2014, the program observed salps in plankton samples collected
on the Western Scotian Shelf, but quantitative analysis of the 2014 samples is
still underway. It is not yet possible to say whether salps were more abundant
in 2014 than in the past.
DFO communications manager David Jennings says the department does not yet have
a good handle on what controls salp blooms in our region.
“Our scientists would be very open to getting more information on ongoing
observations of salps in the lobster fishery and elsewhere. Those observations
can provide useful ancillary information for us to understand what’s happening
in the shelf ecosystem in our region,” he said.
If you have salps catches to report, email AZMPfirstname.lastname@example.org.
For a National Geographic video on Salps. click here.
It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment
~ Ansel Adams