Feb 24, 2011
I saw an article online recently about a newly discovered ocean sunfish. I always thought the mola mola was pretty cool, after all, it eats jellyfish! Anyway, the "new" fish is called the Mola Tecta, and it can reach weights of more than two tons. In any case, the article said that the Mola Tecta mainly eats salps. So I'm thinking, "what the heck is a salp?" Turns out that salps themselves are pretty interesting creatures. They are kind of tubular jellyfish-looking things, but they're actually quite a bit different from jellyfish. For one, they are born with kind of a rudimentary spinal column that gets them classed as chordata. Also, they don't sting. They do, however, have a very interesting life cycle, which includes existing on their own, and existing while linked in long chains with other salps, They reproduce both sexually and asexually at different points in the life cycle. What, you may ask, is my point? My point is that there is a whole lot of stuff out there. I'm 60 years old, and suddenly I know interesting (to some people anyway) facts about salps, a word I didn't even know two weeks ago. I also discovered that they are tunicates, which is a whole other big rabbit hole you could fall into. I find the fact that there are two-ton fish out there that mostly just eat these slippery transparent things much more fascinating than what some repulsive Kardashian is doing. I like to fish the oceans and bays when I can, and I remember pulling something out of San Diego Bay once that was jelly-ish, but part of it was kind of an iridescent blue. I put it back in the water, and I still don't know what it was. Maybe it was a salp or other tunicate. Ocean life can be so alien.