Salps are amazing
A salp (plural salps) is a barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate. It moves by contracting, thus pumping water through its gelatinous body, one of the most efficient examples of jet propulsion in the animal kingdom. The salp strains the pumped water through its internal feeding filters, feeding on phytoplankton.
Salps are gelatinous zooplankton that regularly form large swarms. They have historically been ignored because they are difficult to sample and their gelatinous body structure suggests that they are unimportant in food webs and biogeochemical cycles. Salps play a major role in carbon sequestration and are key components of marine food webs as a food source for at least 202 species including fish, turtles, and crustaceans. The future of salps in the Anthropocene is uncertain, and therefore further research into areas such as basic rate processes and their biogeochemical impact through new and innovative laboratory and field methods is needed.
Impact on the Ocean
At first glance the salp seems very unimportant or inconsequential to ocean life, but this is not the case. The fact is, both sinking fecal pellets from the species as well as salp bodies bring carbon to the sea floor. It wouldn’t be a big deal if there were just a few salp, but there are enough of both the fecal matter as well as the bodies on the ocean floor that the species has a huge impact on the biological pump of the ocean. Because of this impact, the density of salp in an area is known to change the ocean’s carbon cycle, and even contribute to climate changes in the area!